Beating the Odds with Roadtrip Nation


Many educators spend their summer traveling, and Roadtrip Nation Education has also been enjoying the time away from the classroom. We went on the ultimate summer adventure to the White House—cue squeals and OMGs.


Roadtrip Nation student Jaylene, First-Gen road-tripper Jasmine, and our education team recently attended the First Lady’s Reach Higher “Beating the Odds” Summit at the White House. The summit celebrated young people who are the first in their families to pursue education beyond high school and provided wisdom and resources to inspire other first-gen students to go to college. 


Jasmine shared her thoughts on being in the White House, leading a cold-calling session, and being a first-generation college student. 


What was it like being a guest at the White House?


I have been to D.C. twice in my life. I have taken pictures outside of the White House and wished to see what it is like on the other side of those gates. A few weeks ago, I finally had the chance to see what was behind those gates.


Being inside the White House, I felt like royalty. I am still in awe that I was in the White House, in the same room as  the First Lady of the United States, the President of the United States, Wale (one of my favorite rap artists), and Secretary Arne Duncan. I can’t express how surreal it felt because I am still, almost one week later,  trying to figure out how amazing it truly was. This experience was definitely life changing and I really can’t put it into any clear, concise form. I felt like a kid who was able to receive extra dessert, or a kid who just experienced Christmas, or someone who just won the lottery—or maybe all of those emotions all at once?

What was your biggest takeaway from the First Lady’s panel? 


My biggest takeaway from the panel came from Wale, who reminded us that college is the time to take the training wheels off. It definitely takes four years to get them off, and I feel comfortable with being in the process of figuring things out. It reinforced the ideas that I picked up and developed from taking the First-Gen Roadtrip last summer. College is a learning experience, not just academically, and going through this experience changes you and improves you as a  person.


What was it like to present Roadtrip Nation from the Blue Room of the White House?


All I have ever dreamed of was being able to teach. I wanted to teach students of all races, genders, nationalities, strengths, and weaknesses. Being able to be in the White House doing what I love was a feeling that I will never forget. I was delighted every second of the day and I was overexcited that the students were as responsive as they were. I really don’t know how to express the emotions I felt and put them into words. However, I do know that stepping into a classroom every day will give me that same feeling, and I can’t wait to graduate and have my own classroom.



What was it like to be in the same room as the President of the United States? Did anything he say/do impact you?


All I have to say is that President Barack Obama is the coolest president this country has ever had. I was truly shocked when he walked into the room, and for a second I lost my breath. His words definitely left an impact on me, and the love between the FLOTUS and the POTUS is truly amazing. I am also excited because I was able to shake his hand and it was a moment that I will never forget.



Check out our documentary that follows the First-Gen team, Why Not Us?, and the discussion guide to talk to your students about being the first in their families to go to college.

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