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You Visit Tour. Webb Lion Fountain. June 1 2017. Photo David B. Hollingsworth

Old Dominion University Kicks Off Roadtrip Nation Documentary

By Joe Garvey

Old Dominion University is one of only four schools nationwide selected to participate in a new pilot program produced by Roadtrip Nation, the nonprofit documentary video project seen on PBS. The University was chosen because of its diverse student body, successful alumni and innovative approach to career exploration.

Roadtrip Nation will follow three current students as they spend 10 days in November traveling in an RV, visiting and interviewing Old Dominion alumni in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware and New York. The trip aims to highlight the variety of successful career paths following college graduation.

Old Dominion graduates have a proven track record of success. In a survey of alumni, 92 percent of respondents reported that they were gainfully employed or pursuing graduate studies within six months of graduation.

Brian McAllister, co-founder and head of operations for Roadtrip Nation, noted Old Dominion's "high levels of alumni engagement" while addressing the crowd gathered to tour the big, green RV parked in the middle of campus and meet the three students making the trip.

"It really comes to down the innovation and the vision that ODU has for you guys as students and for the alumni," he said. "This is going to be an amazing opportunity for us to capture stories and to produce the content so it can impact you guys as current students and those students beyond the campus and beyond the institution. Those that are thinking about coming to ODU and those that have a degree from ODU and how they're leading meaningful lives."

ODU's innovative approach to careers begins in the admissions process. Its coaching program helps students begin a goal-oriented career path from the beginning. Every student has an opportunity for an internship.

Ellen Neufeldt, vice president for Student Engagement and Enrollment Services, sees the project as the perfect opportunity to capture a unique data set. "Every student has the opportunity to capture the story of alumni. We want to create the largest composite of alumni stories that any university in country or world would have," she said.

The students making the trip are:

Chase Hewett, a senior majoring in civil engineering technology from a suburb of Richmond.

Mikalah Lake, a senior from Virginia Beach majoring in women's studies.

Stephanie Rochelle is a non-traditionally aged freshman majoring in marketing/communications from Newport News.

Rochelle seemed particularly pleased to hit the open road, given the difference in age between her and the other passengers. "Like Mikalah and Chase, I am stoked about being chosen to participate in this," she said. "I'm an online student, 53 years old, decided to start life over and now here I am about to travel in a green RV for 10 days with my 'little brother and sister!'"

According to Neufeldt, the collaboration between ODU and Roadtrip Nation will continue long after the 10-day trip.

"This is the beginning of our journey with Roadtrip, but it's not the end," she said.

Old Dominion's trip was funded by a grant made possible by the Strada Education Network. University alumni are encouraged to engage with current students and share their professional successes through Roadtrip Nation's "Share Your Road" program at odu.shareyourroad.com

Footage is expected to be finalized in March and will appear on ODU's homepage and on the Roadtrip Nation website. People can also follow their journey at RoadtripNation.is/ODU.

Old Dominion University President John R. Broderick kicked off the documentary at the on-campus event for students and the local community. "This is a wonderful way for our students to learn both successes, and as I'm sure they'll find out from the people they interview, the challenges on that road to success," Broderick said.

About Roadtrip Nation

Roadtrip Nation, a nonprofit organization, is working to change the way people approach choosing a career by creating content, products and experiences that guide individuals in exploring what's possible when they follow their interests. It took its first road trip in 2001, has driven over half a million miles and made more than 30 documentaries - broadcast over 100,000 times on public television - sharing the stories and advice of inspiring leaders in all kinds of careers. To learn more, visit roadtripnation.com/about.

About Old Dominion University

Old Dominion University, located in the coastal city of Norfolk, is Virginia's entrepreneurial-minded doctoral research university with more than 24,200 students, rigorous academics, an energetic residential community and initiatives that contribute $2.6 billion annually to Virginia's economy.

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