Student Takes Starring Role in Her Career Story
To help solidify her career options, Mariah Schneider hit the road. The Rio Salado College student packed her bags and joined two fellow students for a two-week road trip in fall 2021 to interview successful college alumni & former students and obtain career advice.
The trip was a result of the college’s partnership with Roadtrip Nation, a non-profit organization that empowers learners by providing career experiences that lead to equitable education and employment pathways. (Learn more about the partnership here.)
“I applied to go on the road trip because I have been experiencing a lot of self-doubt about my abilities and was unsure in my degree path,” said Schneider. “I remember receiving a Roadtrip Nation book called ‘Roadmap’ when I graduated high school. I love the mission Roadtrip stands for, and I wanted to see it in action to help me make a choice.”
Currently Schneider is pursuing an associate in arts degree at Rio Salado College, where she enrolled for the convenience and flexibility of online classes.
“I chose Rio to continue my college studies from high school because it is cost-effective and allows for work accommodations since most classes are online,” Schneider said.
An interest in storytelling and helping others is leading Schneider to consider careers in cinematography or cognitive behavioral sciences.
“I love the magic involved in special effects and have a childhood adoration for storytelling,” Schneider said. “I would love to document scientific advancements for battling anxiety, depression, and other mental needs in a positive light. Films like these could assist people in a helpful, visual way and remind them that they are enough.”
Empowering others and embracing your true self are two of the many tips Schneider learned from the Rio Salado College alumni the roadtrippers interviewed.
“Every person we talked to had something powerful to share, whether it was how to network, how important self-care is, or how building a community can bring more people together,” Schneider said.
She continued, “One of my favorite takeaways is from Amanda Comage-Trower (Founder and CEO, Mental Heart Therapeutic Play). She talked about personal growth and how it is important to start somewhere and keep going, no matter how small the start.”
Along the two-week journey that took the three Rio Salado roadtrippers to Las Vegas, San Francisco, San Diego and the greater Phoenix area, Schneider also had time for self-reflection.
“Traveling in the RV gave me time to journal, sketch, and photograph new places,” Schneider said. “One of my favorite parts was the surprise trip to the Grand Canyon. Being around the forests of Northern Arizona reminded me of the East Coast I visited growing up. And seeing California for the first time and the windmill farms were so scenic as well.”
Schneider deemed the Rio Salado College road trip a success for guiding her future career.
“This trip taught me some of the ways cinematography can work on location, and I loved it,” Schneider said. “I learned a few tricks on lighting, editing, and using the clapperboard, which I've wanted to do for a long time.”
She also found that the trip has inspired a meaningful self-awareness, which may have been the point all along.
“I spoke with so many people on the trip, and that experience helped me conquer some self-doubt while also giving me confidence,” Schneider said. “I realized that I am more than my insecurities, and while money can be security, it isn't anything like happiness.”
Stay tuned for more stories from the Roadtrip Nation’s Rio Salado College Roadtrip.
By Mira Radovich, Senior Contributing Writer