College is never easy, but it poses real challenges for students who are the first in their families to attend. Join four such students as they hit the road in the green RV seeking guidance and hope.
Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz, now worth $2.5 billion, was the first in his family to attend college. So was Girl Scouts CEO Anna Maria Chavez, and so was Grammy Award winner John Legend.
And yet, many teens will never find the support and courage to be the first in their families to get a college education. With income inequality on the rise, a growing segment of the U.S. can’t afford the education that would help them close the economic gap. First generation students must blaze a trail on multiple fronts, bucking family tradition at home, feeling out of place on campus, and navigating the complex college application process without a map.
Roadtrip Nation’s new one-hour special, Why Not Us?, confronts this national challenge head-on through the experiences of four first-generation college students. Wrestling with issues both internal and external, they hit the road in the Green RV to interview leaders like Howard Schultz, John Legend and Anna Maria Chavez. The wisdom, guidance and hope these mentors offer is invaluable to the Roadtrippers, each of whom has managed to get to college … only to discover that their struggles are far from over.
• Jasmine (20) comes from a tight-knit family in South Carolina. Feeling guilty for pursuing her education, she juggles two jobs in addition to her full-time course work so she can send money home. When she visits her family and sees them having trouble putting food on the table, she says, “I am very doubtful that I’m doing the right thing.”
• Felipe (24) grew up in an immigrant community in California and is not just the first college graduate in his family, but in his whole apartment complex. “But I’m still confused as to where I should go,” he admits. He shows his parents his degrees and laughs, “De cuatro años para estos pedazos de papel.” (“Four years for these pieces of paper.”)
• Jenny (19) grew up in Mississippi and lost her mother when she was young. After her father was pulled over three times for drunk driving, her uncle took her in. Struggling to put herself through college, she wonders whether the sacrifice is worth it, and whether she will be able to make a living if she follows her passion and majors in art.
• Johnathan (20) is a sophomore at the University of Central Florida. Though he thought he wanted to be a doctor when he entered college, now he wants to major in marketing. A lot of people have supported him along the way, however, and he feels as if he has to choose between living up to their expectations and following his own dreams.
It’s an emotional, eye-opening journey for the four Roadtrippers, who learn that “failure” can be deceptive, that helping themselves means helping others, and that above all, they aren’t alone. Reenergized and refocused on their educational goals, the four roadtrippers finally say good-bye to each other and take the next steps toward their own success stories, knowing that students past and present have battled the same doubts and challenges … and won. As Anna Maria Chavez says, “Every social indicator, every economic indicator surrounding me pointed me down a different path. So why me?”
Travel from New York to Texas to Arizona to Seattle to hear stories that will inspire students to take their futures into their own hands by asking, “Why not me?”
Loureen Ayyoub, email@example.com
Why Not Us? is made possibly by the College Board and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.
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About Roadtrip Nation
Roadtrip Nation started in 2001 when three friends fresh out of college weren’t sure what to do with their lives. Their solution? To road-trip around the country and ask people who do what they love how they got to where they are today. What started as a road trip sparked an annual documentary series, a number of books, online tools, and an educational organization—all dedicated to helping individuals define their own roads in life. In 2009, Roadtrip Nation expanded into education with the creation of The Roadtrip Nation Experience, a project-based self-discovery curriculum designed to help students explore their identities and find careers aligned with their interests. Today, Roadtrip Nation continues to empower individuals to create meaningful lives doing what they love. To learn more about Roadtrip Nation, visit www.roadtripnation.com. For more information about Roadtrip Nation in education, visit www.roadtripnation.org.
About KQED Public Television
KQED Public Television, one of the country’s most popular public television stations, brings the values of public media to homes around the Bay Area with EMMY® Award–winning programming that inspires, informs and entertains. KQED produces local series like Check, Please! Bay Area, This Week in Northern California, Truly CA, San Francisco Opera and ImageMakers, as well as popular programs for national broadcast such as Essential Pépin, QUEST and Film School Shorts. KQED also distributes programming, including The Cat in the Hat Knows a Lot About That!, Roadtrip Nation andJoanne Weir’s Cooking Confidence, to public media stations across the country. KQED Public Television channels are KQED 9 (San Francisco/Bay Area, also available in HD), KQED Plus (Bay Area, also available in HD) and KQET (Monterey/Salinas). KQED also offers digital channels available via XFINITY and over-the-air, each with distinct quality programming: KQED World, KQED Life, KQED Kids and KQED V-me (Spanish language).
About American Public Television
APT (APTonline.org) has been a leading distributor of high-quality, top-rated programming to America’s public television stations since 1961. Since 2004, APT has distributed approximately half of the top 100 highest-rated public television titles. Among its 300 new program titles per year are prominent documentaries, news and current affairs programs, dramatic series, how-to programs, children’s series and classic movies, including For Love of Liberty: The Story of America’s Black Patriots, A Ripple of Hope, Rick Steves’ Europe, Newsline, Globe Trekker, Simply Ming, Joseph Rosendo’s Travelscope, America’s Test Kitchen From Cook’s Illustrated, Lidia’s Italy, P. Allen Smith’s Garden Home, Midsomer Murders, Moyers & Company, Doc Martin, Rosemary & Thyme, BBC World News, The Rat Pack: Live and Swingin’, Johnny Mathis: Wonderful, Wonderful! and John Denver: The Wildlife Concert. APT also licenses programs internationally through its APT Worldwide service. In 2006, APT launched and nationally distributed Create® – the TV channel featuring the best of public television’s lifestyle programming. APT is also a partner in the WORLD™ channel expansion project including its web presence at WORLDcompass.org. For more information about APT’s programs and services, visit APTonline.org. For more information on Create, visit CreateTV.com.