Sarah Nilsson JD, PhD, MAS
Sarah NilssonJD, PhD, MAS

One of my students took his own life.... I grieved..... and as part of the healing process I wrote the poem "I struggle too" enclosed in a black teardrop

May you rest in peace dear student

I wish I had more time to get to know you better  

You shall be missed but never forgotten

Feb 20, 2016

Dear Hugo,
Why do you love me so much?
Is it because I took you in over five years ago, and we’ve been inseparable ever since?
Is it because of all the fun we have when we go hiking? 
Or is it because of all the fun we have on road trips?
I love how happy you are to see me whenever I come home.
I love how you sit and quietly comfort me when I’m sad.
I love that you’re beside me at the end of each day, snuggling with me.
And I love that you’re beside me in the morning, breathing softly into my ear, when I wake up.
I love how you can’t stand not being constantly by my side.
Hugo, forget diamonds, you, my dog, are a girl’s best friend!
Love you, forever!


Love Letter to my dog Hugo written February 5, 2016 by Sarah J. Nilsson for a radio contest for Valentine's Day on Magic 99.1 - Leza and Ron in the Morning (It was the second finalist!)






I gazed upon your beauty, sweet Atlantis

In the summer of twenty fourteen.

For many years I have waited for this,

For this sight to be seen.


Anticipation as they play the intro.

Like nothing I could ever expect.

Then immediately right after the video,

Without a moment to reflect…


The screen itself parts to reveal,

The most overpowering sight,

As I let out a veritable squeal,

Lest my heart should burst outright!


As if in a dreamlike state,

My feet walk me under her belly.

For it was August eight,

That my legs felt like jelly.


I gazed upon her magnificence.

Tilted at a 43.21-degree angle.

More than three hundred days in space.

Through the crowds I wrangle.


To get closer to her cargo bay,

Open for all to see her positions.

Oh, how I have no words today.

Impressed by her thirty-three space missions.


Hard to wrap my head around,

The 126 MILLION miles in space she flew.

And now she rests on Florida ground,

A sight for me, and you, and you!


And as I gaze, and gaze some more,

As if time for me stood still,

The tears, they started to pour.

I hid behind my husband, Will.


Why was I so moved, I wonder?

Was it because I yearn for space travel?

Or was it that she’d been there, I ponder.

That is the mystery to unravel.


Written by SARAH NILSSON 8-08-14 while standing beneath the majestic space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.


By night


Under a star-filled sky she flew

There was nothing else she’d rather do

Wisps of clouds like a trailing veil

The desert-moon shone large and pale


On cold metal wings high above the ground

The humming of two engines was the only sound

Not a creature stirred at all that night

The earth at rest, a calm and peaceful sight


The roads below, how they snaked their way

Through valleys, and over mountains they lay

Lights sparkled from cities that slept

And the night, onward it crept


Yes, slowly but surely the night passed by

While on silver wings she did indeed fly

No other place on the planet could beat

Sitting up front in the left pilot’s seat


As the beggar can’t describe to the king his pain

As he lies on the ground in the sun and the rain

Nor can I with mere words these feelings express

The undying love of flying I possess


Written by SARAH NILSSON 6-26-02 on a flight from Phoenix to Burbank at about 1.30 am local time.




Many people have a dream. Dreams are everyone’s

best friend.

My dreams were like everyone else’s – I wanted to be


Many years were spent in this pursuit, and many roads

traversed…… vain

Until I stumbled upon the

joy of flight…….freedom at last

To do the one thing that sets my

soul free

To take to the blue skies on

shiny wings

To soar like the angels themselves






Oh yes, I’ve studied the aerodynamics of lift

Bernoulli and Newton both

Calculated mathematically the performance data

Painfully reconfigured weight and balance

But never do I cease to be amazed

When reaching speed we take to the air

Wheels leave the Earth below

Wings take us upward

We leave our troubles behind

Like a bird that has swooped into the sea

to catch a fish

emerges dripping salt water

but as it continues upward, the droplets,

like painful troubles that burden the soul,

fall downward leaving the bird free






Written by SARAH NILSSON on 4-23-2001 for Embry Riddle class.





In the heat of July

So often I must fly

I leave Albuquerque for Phoenix direct

There are thunderstorms enroute to expect

I take off down the runway in my Navajo

It’s belly stuffed with developed film – my cargo

Twenty miles out and standing tall

Looming gray clouds forming a wall

I’m tearing through the sky

Looking for a clearing through which to fly

At a hundred and seventy miles per hour

While the clouds ever growing, above me tower

With a whisper of a prayer I watch my stormscope

“Let there be a gap,” I silently hope

Soon a ray of sunshine makes a space

I follow that ray – it’s my saving grace

Through the space I go – a bumpy ride

Gray walls of evil on either side

One cloud raises its ugly swollen head

Like a starving dragon waiting to be fed

A bolt of lightning is thrown like a spear

Meant to intimidate me, to cause me fear

The cloud above me, puffy and wild

Spits rain at me like a possessed child

As I cautiously make haste to the other side

Blue skies await me – far and wide

Interlaced with a pure white friendly cloud

Over the White Mountains it lay like a shroud

Passing St. John’s, visibility is at its best

I can soon see Four Peaks to the distant southwest

I advise the controller I have Phoenix in sight

He returns with, “Cleared to land, two five right”

Right on schedule my wheels touch down

My cargo will soon make its way into town

I thank the angels that guided my way

As I made it back safely on this hot sultry day



Written on July 20, 2002 at about 3.00pm on a flight between ABQ, New Mexico and PHX, Arizona


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Sarah Nilsson, J.D., Ph.D., MAS


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