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Rio Salado College Students Make Big Screen Debut in Roadtrip Documentary

photo of four Roadtrip Nation participants at the premiere event photo of four Roadtrip Nation participants at the premiere event photo of the Roadtrip Nation RV photo inside the Roadtrip Nation RV photo inside the Roadtrip Nation RV photo of Kate Smith speaking at the event photo of attendees with Kate Smith photo of attendees

Rio Salado College Students Make Big Screen Debut in Roadtrip Documentary

By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer

Last fall, six Rio Salado College students took part in the college’s partnership with Roadtrip Nation, resulting in a documentary film highlighting their journey interviewing successful alumni and former students.

For 19 years, Roadtrip Nation has sent students on the road in their trademark green RVs to take journeys of self-discovery and interview leaders from all walks of life.

The interviews are recorded and packaged into videos, career stories and podcasts to help others trying to answer that age-old question, “What should I do with my life?”

Documentary Premiere March 23

The Rio Salado Roadtrip Documentary made its debut on March 23, 2022, at a premiere event at the college’s conference center, although it was two years in the making due to the Covid pandemic.

“If there is one thing that we’ve learned since the pandemic hit, it is the importance of human-centered storytelling,” said Mike Marriner, Roadtrip Nation co-founder and president. “We are so proud to collaborate with institutions like Rio Salado who provide accessibility and 21st Century modes of learning to students wherever they are.”

Rio Salado College President Kate Smith introduced the film at the premiere.

“The film chronicles a journey of Rio Salado students who went in search of answers about career choices and what it takes to follow their dreams,” Smith said. “It also provides an intimate glimpse into what it’s like to be a non-traditional student including some of the obstacles they face and the many successes they can achieve.”

Meet the Roadtrippers

Three Rio students - Brittany Gray, Meredith Jaxon and Mariah Schneider - packed their bags and hit the road for a 2-week journey. They made stops in Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego, and the greater Phoenix area, interviewing several successful college alumni and former students.

Three other Rio students - Cordero Holmes, Mairzey Nevin and Hugo Organista - conducted one-on-one interviews with successful college alumni, some who are working in their fields of interest.

Four of the six student roadtrippers attended the premiere and discussed what they learned on their journeys.  

  • Meredith Jaxon was considering a career in neuroscience when she went on the road trip. She was especially inspired by the interview with Carole Redden, chief change officer of Change Your Channel. “How Carole helped me was to realize it’s OK for me to exist and create content that can be helpful to other people. The more I was in the back of the RV, the more I realized neuroscience isn’t it, although it is still of interest to me. Right now, I am doing mobile app development. I am working on a dating app that should be released in the summer.”
  • Mariah Schneider is currently pursuing an associate in arts degree at Rio and is considering careers in cinematography or cognitive behavioral sciences. “The interview with Jae Dillard (realtor with exp Realty) was really profound. It talks about getting over adversity and having the tenacity to move forward despite all of your obstacles or where you are in life. I’m still in contact with three of the road trip leaders. This fall, in addition to working and taking classes, I will also be helping a mental health organization by teaching kids aged 5-11 how to properly express emotions through art.”

  • Cordero Holmes served 10 years in prison, which is where he first encountered Rio Salado College through its incarcerated re-entry program. “Since the road trip, I earned my first associate degree at Rio and am almost finished with the second. I also received an All-AZ scholarship and will attend university this fall. I’ve been really focused on family. That’s my one takeaway from the road trip - family is really important.”

  • Mairzey Nevin recently completed her associate degree at Rio and will transfer to the University of Mississippi this fall to pursue a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. “I thought I was behind in life. I felt like everyone around me was doing things at a faster pace than me. But after doing the interview with Sgt. Greg Wright (Dallas College Police Department), honestly, I don’t want to be a police officer. But him talking about how he wants to help people made me realize that’s what I want to do. I’m going to find a career where I can help people. I still feel like it will be in criminal justice. Maybe a victim’s advocate.”

Watch all the student interviews in the Rio Salado College Roadtrip Documentary.

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