Roadtrip Nation: Future WestWatch online with AZPM Passport

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When people think of "startups," they tend to think of Silicon Valley. But as access to tech education and capital spreads, the barrier to entry for startups across the country has lowered, and as a result, there's been explosive growth in areas beyond San Francisco. One such area? Arizona, a state whose commitment to entrepreneurship and innovation has attracted tons of new startups, inspiring locals to start calling the state the "Silicon Desert." In ROADTRIP NATION: FUTURE WEST, three Arizona-based college students travel around the state to explore the creative and original ways residents are pushing innovation to its limits. As a child, 19-year-old Anna Mackey traveled with her dad to Arizona's forgotten towns. She'd step into a whole different world shaped by the stories of the people who lived there. Those adventures helped foster her love of history. But it's not just observing that Anna is interested in, it's listening. She believes that people want to be heard, and wants to create space for that human connection to history, whether as a documentarian, or something else. But taking a different path also means taking a risk. That's why she's seeking advice from trailblazers who pushed their fear of failure aside, so she can gain the confidence to do the same. Nashville, Tennessee native Jonathan Reiss didn't grow up in the state, but when it came time to choose a college, Arizona just felt right. The freedom of a new, wide-open place helped him focus on what makes him happy. Jonathan, who is studying chemical engineering, plans to take his problem-solving skills into web development and music. He's inspired by the way people in Arizona make things happen, and he wants to be like that-not over-thinking details or becoming paralyzed by possibilities-just boldly putting his ideas out there. Shandin Gormin, 18, is looking to the future. She wants to find what it holds for journalism, and for the Navajo Nation where she grew up. Her future, ideally, will combine both. As a Native American youth advocate, coming together with other young people to take on issues faced by her community, she's found support and inspiration. It's opened her eyes to those who have overcome challenges like the ones she faces, and those stories push her to keep going. Shandin is on this trip to find what you don't get in school-the things you only realize by experiencing them.

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