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8/10/2017 6:45:00 PM
This road trip across Indiana is designed to open eyes to careers

Scott L. Miley, News and Tribune CNHI Statehouse Bureau

INDIANAPOLIS — Jaedyn Zavala has a noble career ambition of opening a church that serves as a veterinary clinic in Kokomo.

But before that career choice is finalized, the 18-year-old high school graduate is taking a road trip in hopes of exploring career options.

"I'm really looking forward to knowing what I want to do when I go to college," he said. "Going into this road trip, there's so many choices that you can go into. I'm just unsure, but in these past few days that I've already been here, I've already gotten more sure about what I want to do. But being able to interview all these people who have gone through college and have jobs is just an exciting experience to see and learn from."

On Wednesday, Zavala and two other young Hoosier adults began a two-week, paid RV trip around Indiana in which they'll meet with employers to discuss career options. The first leg of their journey included a lap around the Indianapolis Motor Speedway before heading to Lafayette

Stops include Delphi today; Warsaw on Monday; Seymour on Tuesday; Fishers on Aug. 17 and Indianapolis on Aug. 18.

The trip is based on the long-running PBS program "Roadtrip Nation," which focuses on Americans pursuing interests and careers as well as the changing workforce. Roadtrip Indiana is the first in the nation to focus on a single state, organizers said. It's a partnership between the Indiana Commission for Higher Education and "Roadtrip Nation."

"Roadtrip Indiana will really look at several ways of making sure that students have a better understanding of the full range of career options that are available to them," said Teresa Lubbers, the state's higher education commissioner.

"Too many students, and we know this is true, actually have an opinion of manufacturing that they'll be working in a hot, dirty environment, but the reality is that, today, advanced manufacturing employees are likely to be wearing white lab coats and be skilled in robotics," she said.

Zavala, who will attend Grace College, said he hoped thousands of Hoosier teens would follow the trio's experience online at

"What I'm looking forward to is that the people who don't get the chance to go on this road trip will see my video and relate to me because there's so many people out there like me who don't get this chance. ... (They) might learn from what I'm learning," Zavala said.

He recently graduated from Western High School in Howard County. He lives with his mother, Monica, who is a teacher, and younger brother, Skylar.

Joining Zavala are Shannon Newerth, 21, of Beech Grove, and Dengke Wang, 19, of Portage. Each had to apply for the trip and send in a video explaining their goals. Zavala recorded his video in a family bathroom so he would have privacy, his mother said.

By Wednesday, the three had already spent two nights in their bright green RV.

"We're pretty comfortable I would say," said Newerth, who is studying plant science at Purdue University. "We're looking forward to the end of the trip to see how well we're going to be getting along and if we're going to be tired of being all cooped up."

Wang, a Purdue student born in China, said he had sights set on an engineering career, saying, "I'm kinda like scared about this decision I have to make so I just want to get some confidence to back up the decision I have to make about my career."

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Editor, John C. DePrez Jr.; Executive Editor, Carol Rogers; Publishers: IBRC and IAR

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