Roadtrip Nation and the College Board Team Up for First-Gen Road Trip
Roadtrip Nation and the College Board Team Up for First-Gen Road TripCollege Board Communications
Roadtrip Nation, a career exploration organization based in Southern California, and the College Board recently collaborated to offer four first-generation college students the chance to travel around the country in an RV and interview successful professionals who were also the first in their families to graduate from college. The trip, which ends this week, is being filmed for a one-hour documentary that will air on PBS in spring 2015.
The “First-Gen Roadtrip” was a five-week adventure during which “Roadtrippers” conducted in-depth interviews with leaders who overcame obstacles and achieved college and career success.
“By speaking with leaders to learn how they got to where they are today, young students and job seekers alike are able to gain rare insight,” said Mike Marriner, cofounder of Roadtrip Nation.
The vision for this project dovetails with the College Board’s Access to Opportunity ™ (A2OTM) program, which works to break down the barriers faced by low-income, first-generation, and underrepresented students and help them take advantage of the opportunities they have earned.
“Partnering with Roadtrip Nation on this unique and powerful project will give viewers a chance to hear directly from students about a topic that is relevant to so many others across the country,” said Steve Colón, vice president of Access to Opportunity. “This work, combined with the College Board’s ongoing initiatives, can make a real difference in driving measurable outcomes for students.”
Meet the Roadtrippers:
Jasmine Johnson: Jasmine is a sophomore at the University of South Carolina. Her family struggled to get by while she was growing up in North Carolina, and her tight-knit relationship with her family has sometimes prevented her from leaving her comfort zone. However, this has not stopped her from being the first in her family to pursue a college degree. “This road trip will allow me to take the first step outside my ‘Carolina bubble’ by giving me the nudge I know I need,” said Jasmine.
Jenny Rogers: Jenny is a first-year student at Mississippi State University (MSU). Since her mother passed away and her father was incarcerated, she has had to fend for herself and is putting herself through college. Although she is enjoying her time at MSU, she has struggled with gaining the confidence to decide on a major. ‘I hope that this trip will allow me to gain confidence in myself,’ Jenny said, ‘as well as meet people who struggled with and overcame the same lack of self-confidence that I feel.’
Felipe Hernandez: Felipe is a 24-year-old college graduate who plans to use his education to help low-income communities like the one he grew up in. He is a self-proclaimed natural-born leader who hopes to continue to travel and find adventure in his life. “I hope that this road trip will provide me with wisdom, guidance, and mentorship from leaders who have taken the journey I’m about to embark on.”
Jonathan: Jonathan is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida. Despite growing up in an impoverished single-parent household, he is pursuing his lifelong dream of getting a college degree. Although he fears failure at times, he hopes that this trip will expose him to others who have succeeded in the face of similar adversity. “I am really excited about the opportunity to speak with influential leaders who can help me become the leader I know I could be.”
Advice from an Unexpected Place
In addition to their scheduled interviews, the road-trippers had the unexpected opportunity to talk with Alejandra Ceja, Executive Director of the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for Hispanics, and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.
"Be authentic in what you do because once you do, people will listen and be more willing to follow," Ceja told the road-trippers.
Secretary Duncan sat down with the students inside the trademark Roadtrip Nation RV to share his advice on passion and success with the students: "Try and figure out over time what you would do every day because you love to do it. Yes, you need to make a living, that's important. You need to pay the bills. But I've done two things in my life. I played basketball for a couple years and the rest of my life I've worked in education, and those are my two passions. There have been times when I've made a lot of money and times when I've made very little money and quite honestly it didn't matter to me because I've always done what I loved. I feel so lucky to have done that."