Roadtrip Nation, a grassroots career exploration movement that helps marginalized students find their passion, held an event at Lane Community College on Thursday, April 2.
Photo: August Frank
Roadtrip Nation, a grassroots career exploration movement that helps marginalized students find their passion, held an event at Lane Community College on Thursday, April 2.Photo: August Frank

Roadtrip Nation, a grassroots career exploration movement that helps marginalized students find their passion, held an event at Lane Community College on Thursday, April 2.
Photo: August Frank

“My last job, before I decided to go back to school, was digging graves in the graveyard where my father was buried,” said Greg Evans, 2015 Vice President of Eugene City Council and Lane Student Life and Leadership Development instructor.
While in the mud “squaring out a hole to put somebody in there” a crew member and convicted felon warned him: people with felony records cannot get good jobs, get licensed or have careers, unless they do something exceptional to break out. “Go back to school,” he said.
Having already engaged in “nefarious activities,” as he put it, Evans listened. “I took that to heart,” he said. “I got out of that hole and I went back and I finished my education.”
Evans spoke at a Roadtrip Nation event hosted by Lane Community College on Thursday, April 2. Approximately 80 people, mostly Education Career and College Organization students, attended the event.
Roadtrip Nation, a grassroots career exploration movement, helps marginalized students find their passion and then helps them match their passion with career opportunities. “Define your own road in life” is their motto.
Some staff are full time employees. Others, called roadies, are hired for shorter periods to go on road trips visiting areas where high schools and colleges have high dropout rates. Their mission is to help students find their paths in life.
“It’s a very uplifting experience because we get to reach kids from different areas and different backgrounds,” Roadtrip roadie Nekeed Upshaw said. “As I talk to them, I’m finding my own path as well.”
Specialized skills aren’t required to become a roadie. The organization teaches successful applicants what they need to know, Upshaw said.
“When you’re on a road trip it’s like being in a time warp,” he said. “When you come out of it, you are a whole different person because of the process you go through.”
Roadtrip Nation began 15 years ago with three college graduates, unsure of their direction in life. Mike Marriner, Brian McAllister and Nathan Gebhard sought out successful people from different walks of life to find out what made them successful.
It took time and effort to reach top people in organizations, but they persisted and succeeded. Two of the people they interviewed were Starbucks Chairman and CEO Howard Schultz and Michael Dell, founder and CEO of Dell Inc.
Their question to everyone they reached was “How did you get to where you are today?” The common element — passion. Inspired by their own passion to create Roadtrip Nation, they bought an old RV, painted it green, because that was the cheapest paint they could find, and took to the road in search of people to help.
They made a documentary that aired on PBS 15 years ago. PBS has been airing the ongoing Roadtrip Nation story ever since. The founders and staff believe that with the right encouragement anything is possible, and that’s what they teach.
Lane ECCO students are all participating in a 12-lesson curriculum designed by Roadtrip Nation. Participating in the program typically costs $25 per person.
However, in this case AT&T is sponsoring 300 Lane students. AT&T is providing funding for 60 events and for 15,000 students across the country to go through the curriculum.
Aaron Farley, national events and logistics strategist for Roadtrip Nation, said that marginalized students are often told what they can’t do. “We show them what they can do,” he said, adding that “we are trying to get Roadtrip Nation to the students who need it the most.”
The program is not just for the young, it’s for older people as well, Farley said. “It’s for anybody who wants to switch it up and find a job that resonates with them and motivates them,” he said.
The book, “Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life,” was released on April 7.

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