Hopefully by now, you’ve heard all about our latest women in STEM-themed series, A Balanced Equation! But what you might not know is that behind the scenes, an awesome bunch of Roadtrip Nation roadies—Mimi, Jen, Kelsey, and Ellen—have been visiting schools, Boys and Girls Clubs, and STEM-focused organizations across the country, screening clips from the series for over 2,000 students and young adults.
A Balanced Equation features tons of uplifting interviews with women in STEM, and as four young women interested in STEM themselves, this supporting tour has given Mimi, Jen, Kelsey, and Ellen the opportunity to conduct some inspiring live interviews of their own! They’ve had the honor of sharing the stage with community leaders like Techbridge Girls CEO Nikole Collins-Puri and AT&T device architect Ginger Chien, among others, engaging speakers in candid conversations about overcoming obstacles on their roads into STEM.
Both A Balanced Equation and this supporting STEM-focused tour are components of our ongoing collaboration with AT&T as part of the AT&T Aspire initiative, which aims to help all students—regardless of age, gender, or income—get access to the best education possible. At the first stop of the tour, the roadies got to show off their stuff for Yen Marshall, the Sacramento area director for AT&T’s external affairs; afterwards, she reached out to share a bit about why this tour—and this roadie team!—was so inspiring to her:
“As a female immigrant who came to the U.S. and didn’t speak one word of English, my parents didn’t expect much for my future. But because I chose to pursue a degree in computer science, I brought myself out of poverty. It provided me with career opportunities that my parents never thought possible for women. I’m excited and hopeful that the stories being shared on this trip will inspire more young women to pursue their own STEM career paths!”
Needless to say, after those glowing words, we were pretty stoked to send our first-ever all-woman roadie team (!) across the country.
Since taking off from RTN HQ in Orange County, CA, two months ago, they’ve now completed 20 screening events in 12 different states. Their tour is finally coming to an end in the Bronx, NY, today, so we asked each of them to put together a few Letterman-style lists of their favorite moments from the road:
Four favorite off-the-beaten trail moments
We were driving through Oregon when Kelsey discovered that we were only a couple hours away from this infamous spectacle called Haystack Rock. Naturally, we just had to make it happen. We drove two hours to the coast, fueled by her excitement—and it turned out to be the most pleasant day! We took our shoes off and strolled along the cold, sandy Oregon coast, petting dogs and making jokes. Then there it was! Haystack Rock. “So, it’s just a big…rock?” someone asked with a head tilt. Yep, it’s just a big rock. But seeing Kelsey so over the moon somehow made us feel like we’d checked something off EVERYONE’S bucket list!
That day, we learned to leave plenty of time for the unknown surprises, and to keep a lookout for moments of road trip magic—our own “Haystack Rocks”! Here are the points each of us considered to be our “Haystack Rock” moment of the trip:
- Kelsey: Haystack Rock (Cannon Beach, OR)
- Mimi: The Giant Pinecone (Flagstaff, AZ)
- Jen: The Great Bat Migration (Austin, TX)
- Ellen: “Wicked” on Broadway (New York, NY)
Three favorite quotes from the road
As ambassadors of the Women in STEM tour, we felt it was only fitting to represent this Roadtrip’s impact with an equation:
# of people met (2,645) * ideas talked about = ∞ knowledge gained
Keeping in mind that we now possess *infinite wisdom*, here are our top three favorite bits of knowledge gained along this journey!
- “You can teach someone to code, but you can’t teach someone to care.” —Perry Eising, front-end web developer and tech teacher
- “It’s not what they call you—it’s what you answer to.” —Edalmira Rivera, science teacher, William Penn Senior High School
- “Keep moving forward with momentum.” —Natasha Wilkerson, STEM project director, Communities in Schools of San Antonio (She even wrote the equation for momentum on our RV’s ceiling!!!)
—Kelsey and Ellen
Five favorite ways to decompress on the road
Road life can get taxing—emotionally and physically. Sometimes you find yourself on a one-way road in D.C., face-to-face with a 12’4” bridge, contemplating how you’re going to get all 12’6” of your RV through without a police escort. These high-stress moments take a little bit of creative problem-solving, teamwork, and the ability to laugh after the fact. But when laughing just didn’t cut it, here were our top five ways to decompress on the road!
- Go on a run (Or a walk, if that’s your jam!)
- 10-minute guided meditations
- Singing Celine Dion tunes!
- Mud masks!
- Reenacting Sia’s “Chandelier” music video
Four tried-and-true rest stop dance moves
Speaking of Sia, here’s a list of our personal favorite rest-stop dance moves that will invigorate your desire to get behind the wheel again:
- The Elaine from Seinfeld
- The Chicken (classic)
- The Frug (in particular, the “Rich Man’s Frug,” as made famous by Bob Fosse)
- The 6 God’s Hotline Bling
This tour has been so impactful for the students we’ve met along the way that we’re finishing it off by live-streaming one of our STEM events to bring the inspiration to as many people as we can. If you want to join our conversation around the future of women in STEM, we’ll be coming live to your laptop soon! Just make sure to go like Roadtrip Nation on Facebook, and we’ll keep you posted on all of the upcoming details.