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Lessons from the road

Molly Shore

When Roadtrip Nation made a daylong stop Tuesday at Woodbury

University, students learned the success stories of the founder of

Dell computers, the chairman of Starbucks and the conductor of the


Boston Philharmonic.

These stories and many others were documented by Roadtrip Nation,

a group of college graduates who travel around the country in a

bright green recreation vehicle learning the secrets of successful



When Michael Marriner, 25, and Nathan Gebhard, 26, decided to

break from family traditions in medicine and business, respectively,

the Pepperdine University graduates chose the open road instead.

“Mike and I talked and said, ‘Let’s see what’s out there,’”

Gebhard said. “Our quest of putting together a road trip was what we

wanted to do with our lives.”

Returning home to Southern California in 2000, Marriner and


Gebhard recruited two friends -- UCLA graduate Amanda Gall, 26, and

Pepperdine graduate Brian McAllister, 27 -- to join them on two more


They also got sponsors. Nike financed the tour and Apple Computer

provided the equipment to make the documentary, “The Open Road.”

The group connected with people like Starbucks Chairman Howard

Schultz, Madonna’s stylist Arianne Phillips and Michael Dell of Dell



“Starting out, most people didn’t know where they were headed,”

Gall said. “All of them said they took chances and were not afraid.”

Norma Maya, a student in a Retail Marketing Management Class at

Woodbury, watched an eight-minute segment of the documentary, and

said she thought it was wonderful how the group could “just pick up

and go.”

“I think everybody’s a bit timid when they enter the outside

world, but when you get experience and know what you really want,

that’s when you start to live,” Maya said.