SCF Summer Bridge Program Test Drives Careers with Roadtrip Nation

(Bradenton, Fla., July 31, 2015) – Deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life – and how to get there – when you are still in your teens is a daunting proposition. The Career Resource Center at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) is charged with helping students face these tough choices and make informed decisions about their futures. To this end, the Center recently added Roadtrip Nation, an interactive online classroom, to its toolbox.

Roadtrip Nation was founded 15 years ago by three college graduates who were still trying to define their career paths after they earned their degrees. They travelled the country seeking out professionals from all walks of life who succeeded in building careers around their own unique combination of interests and videotaped their stories. In the process, the three found their niche and the videos and other information have been compiled into books, a television series and, most recently, online educational curricula.

Three of the 12 lessons that make up Roadtrip Nation were taken for a test drive by the 18 students enrolled in SCF’s Summer Bridge Program, which allows selected low-income high school seniors from Manatee and Sarasota counties to get a jump-start on college by taking two courses over the summer.

“These students served as a pilot group as part of the Summer Bridge program and we are looking to them to provide feedback,” said Denise Gatch, director of SCF’s Career Resource Center. She added that the Roadtrip Nation project is being used at Valencia College in Orlando with positive results.


“According to the Valencia staff, students love it,” she said. “One of the reasons that the project seems to resonate with the teens is the fact that they can see someone who has been in their shoes and addressed some of their same concerns.

“The videos range between five and 30 minutes and are definitely not polished,” Gatch explained. “But the questions posed are very down-to-earth and relevant to the students. They really seem to help students identify a passion for their career and their future.”

The SCF Summer Bridge students echoed that enthusiasm.

Semaj Hickson, a Manatee High School graduate, hopes to become a physician and said Roadtrip Nation was helping her to narrow down her options within the medical field.

“It showed me jobs that work with my interests,” Hickson said, noting, “There were some jobs I never even thought of!”

“I got to see how people took simple steps to get to where they are,” she added. “That makes it easier.”

The project also encourages students to be open to other career choices they might not have considered.

Savantay Monix, another Summer Bridge student, noted, “I planned to go to SCF and get my A.A. (Associate in Arts degree) in graphic design. Then I came to orientation here, and they had a video on dental hygiene. It made me interested in dental hygiene as a career.

“I enjoyed seeing the interviews (on Roadtrip Nation) of people who pursued their interests,” Monix added. “It made me want to reach out to people in dental hygiene.”

The Greater Sarasota Chamber of Commerce made the State College of Florida aware of this career exploration tool and the $35 per student fee for the Project during the Summer Bridge Program is being paid through funding provided by Gulf Coast Community Foundation and CareerEdge Funders Collaborative.

“A lot of students go into college without enough thought about their career paths,” said Mimi Fleck, Young Professionals Group Coordinator for the Chamber. “This can lead to a loss of money, opportunity and interest. The Chamber knows that career exploration is critical to this process, which is why we had a particular interest in Roadtrip Nation.”

According to Fleck, the Sarasota-Manatee area is expected to add more than 30,000 jobs over the next few years in areas such as computer science, health care, construction and transportation.

Stressing that student success and community prosperity also are integral to the mission of SCF, Gatch said that piloting a portion of the course over the summer was the first step in the process of adding Roadtrip Nation to the college curriculum.

The State College of Florida Collegiate School (SCFCS), a charter school providing sixth through 12th graders with the opportunity to simultaneously complete high school and earn an associate degree, already plans to use specially designed high school and middle school Roadtrip Nation curricula beginning this fall with their eighth and 10th graders.

“All eighth grade students, no matter where they go to school, need to begin exploring careers and understanding their skills and talents so they’ll be ready for high school when credits begin accruing and getting good grades is so important,” said SCFCS Counselor Angela Almeyda. “Also, Roadtrip Nation will help them begin setting future goals and planning for the education that will help them meet those goals.  

“Our 10th graders are getting reading for Accelerated College, so they most definitely need to have a plan as they will be choosing college courses for their junior year,” she continued. “Since this is so early, they need more exposure to careers and career paths. I believe Roadtrip Nation will accomplish this for them.”

“If all goes well, and the results of this pilot are positive, we hope to integrate Roadtrip Nation into our college-level career planning courses in the spring,” said Gatch.

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