Celebrating our 2023 Graduates!

It’s an exciting week for On the Road!

Our next class of seniors is graduating from high school in just a few days, but we got a chance to catch up with our seniors to hear about their next chapter, what they learned from On the Road, and what they would want to share with the next generation.

An Eight Year Journey

Through our partnership with local schools, On the Road offers afterschool and summer programs with the single goal of empowering youth with more educational and career enrichment opportunities.


That vision began in 2015 when we launched our first On the Road program, and that’s when we first met Shyanna and Dennis.


Shyanna and Dennis are two of our seniors this year, and both of them have been with us since the beginning.

“I’ve been with On the Road for eight years,” Shyanna said, adding that building relationships with others has been a highlight of her time at On the Road.


“My favorite memories [have been] meeting the new team leads each semester and being able to grow with them and learn where they’re coming from or how they learned about the program, and then being in a situation where I’m able to talk to them –not just about school stuff, but about career enrichment,” Shyanna explained.


Dennis agreed. He said he originally joined On the Road as a distraction from things going on in his life, but that he soon realized it was a good way to spend his afternoons after school.


“I got to spend my time learning these different skills and learning about these different careers, so it was just a great way to spend my time,” he said, remembering some of his favorite Career Enrichment courses, including a coding class in middle school that he liked a lot.


“It was interesting, and why not try something new,” he said, adding that this idea mostly sums up his experience with On the Road.


“Every day going to On the Road was interesting because every day was different. [It’s one reason] why I liked it so much,” Dennis explained “There was always something new to learn, something new to do. And I think the trips, going to the colleges– that was great for me.”


“Joining [On the Road] teaches you a lot, and it shows you the places you wouldn’t even think of going,” Johnny said as he explained the weeklong college trip around Virginia where he got to visit Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, among others.


Johnny said On the Road “is a great opportunity.”


“Joining [On the Road] teaches you a lot, and it shows you the places you wouldn’t even think of going,” Johnny said as he explained the weeklong college trip around Virginia where he got to visit Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, University of Virginia in Charlottesville, and Mary Baldwin University in Staunton, among others.

“It was really fun, and it just opened up your eyes.”


From the First Day to the Last

Johnny first joined On the Road because Shyanna told him he should. 

 Shyanna told Johnny he should try it out because she thought he’d like it – but when Johnny showed up for his first day at On the Road, Shyanna wasn’t there that day. 

Johnny said he initially felt awkward because he didn’t know anyone else, but when he reflects on his time at on the Road, it’s his favorite memory.


“I met other people and they accepted me immediately. It was one of the best moments I’ve had,” Johnny remembered.

He said since then, he’s continued to build those relationships with others.


“The people that you meet and leaders that you get to work with are phenomenal. They show you the ropes, they teach you everyday life skills, they teach you mental skills – how to keep your mind in check,” Johnny said. “[I’ve] loved every moment about [On the Road] … and I only have gratitude towards the people that I’ve met here.”


Shyanna agreed. “The leaders are not just leaders –they’re family. They’re one of the best people, and if you’re in the program then you’re guaranteed that strong connection.”


Both Shyanna and Johnny said they hope other youth will take the opportunity available to them and become an On the Road youth.


“I would tell them to apply,” Shyanna said, explaining that at first, she wasn’t sure she wanted to spend her afternoons staying after school for a program. But looking back, being a part of our organization has changed her and now, she finds it difficult to say goodbye.


“It’s like leaving a part of me behind,” Shyanna explained. “As the program grew, I grew with it. And I realized that this is a part of me. That if I’m not at On the Road and I go home after school, then I’m not being the fullest person I can.

“I would say that On the Road helps a lot with what you want to do in the future,” Shyanna continued. “It helps you a lot with academics, and it helps a lot with building relationships with the people that are, in the end, going to be your best friends.”

Many Paths to Success


Our goal at On the Road has always been to help youth find their own path to success and set them on the road to realizing their full potential. And our graduating seniors are showing the variety of ways this can take shape.


Eldana, another one of our seniors this year, has already been accepted into the Computer Science program at James Madison University. And she said it was because On the Road that she realized she was interested in pursuing coding as a career. 

“On the Road helped me with realizing that I want to do coding in the future and just pursue that field,” Eldana explained, reflecting on her first year with our programs. 


“My favorite memory is when I first got into Girls Who Code and there was a super sweet teacher who made us run down through everything and just showed me all the resources available to start out,” Eldana remembered, adding that it was through this exploration that she learned about this part of herself. 


“There’s so many opportunities [at On the Road] and chances for you to explore. And things that you didn’t even think you were interested in, you get to try it out and you might find out you want to pursue it in the future. So, I just really recommend it,” Eldana said. 

Shyanna also plans to attend college. She’s been accepted to Mary Baldwin University where she plans to double major in education and psychology, with the hopes of becoming a school psychologist. 


And it was thanks to an On the Road trip that she landed on Mary Baldwin as her choice. 


“I didn’t even know that Mary Baldwin was a place until we took a field trip with On the Road. That kind of opened my eyes because we were able to talk to admissions officers and the President, and they told us a lot of different things [about the school],” Shyanna remembered. “This was when I was an 11th grader, and then at that moment, I was like, ‘Okay, I really want to go to the school;’ applied and got in, and that’s how I kind of came to light about my college.”

Dennis is planning to attend Blue Ridge to earn his associate’s degree in criminal justice, with the hopes of then entering law enforcement – a field he’s always been interested in but was able to explore more while at On the Road.

He said this feels like the right next step for him.

“It’s a good way to learn more and enhance your skills and gain more knowledge,” Dennis said.



Johnny is planning to enter the military and take a contract with the Marines, but he said he feels more prepared to enter this next chapter thanks to On the Road. He said our programs have also “guided [him] through the steps that one should take financially.”

President and Co-founder, Brent Holsinger, said these youth embody the essence of On the Road and what he and the organization’s leaders hoped for when these programs first began in Harrisonburg City Public Schools.

“Our goal has always been to help empower youth with a better understanding of themselves and the possibilities ahead of them so they leave us at the end of their high-school career feeling better equipped to make wise decisions about their future and able to take steps toward their goals,” Brent explained. “And I could not be prouder of this graduating class.”


Join us in congratulating our 2023 On the Road seniors! We can’t wait to see all they accomplish in the world.