By Roadtrip Nation

Eric Waldo


My road in life took a while to figure out.
Born in Birmingham, AL, to a Jewish father and Puerto Rican mother—he describes himself as a “Jewish Puerto Rican guy who was born in Alabama and grew up in Cleveland.”
Growing up, he says he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life because he was interested in so many things.
In college, he was on the pre-med track until he took a class called “The History of American Education,” which he says sparked his passion for education reform.
Participated in a program called Summer Bridge, where college students teach underserved high school students—says he fell in love with teaching and working with young people.
Moved to Boston right out of college; he worked as a market researcher, which he hated, but it paid enough for him to take acting classes at night and pursue his interest in theater.
When 9/11 happened, it changed his perspective and forced him to rethink how he wanted to make a difference—he decided to pursue his master’s in education policy and go to law school.
Worked on the presidential campaign of one of his former law professors, Barack Obama, serving as an attorney on his transition team and later as Deputy Chief of Staff for the Department of Education.
He is now the executive director of Michelle Obama’s Reach Higher initiative at Civic Nation, working to inspire every student in the U.S. to complete their post-secondary education.
Keep following my journey


Executive Director of Michelle Obama's Reach Higher Initiative

I work to inspire young people around the country to pursue and complete their education.

Career Roadmap

My work combines:
My work combines:
Learning / Being Challenged

Day to Day

I put together a lot of meetings; trying to bring people and organizations together towards a common purpose and hopefully we bring creativity to our cause around inspiring and empowering young people to take control of their lives through education.

Advice for Getting Started

Here's the first step for middle school students

Everything counts, so start working hard now and try as many things out as possible. Make friends with your teachers, take internships, learn about things you are excited about, but know that your plans will change. And that's okay.

Recommended Education

My career is related to what I studied. I'd recommend the path I took:



The Noise I Shed

From Myself:

"I'll just be a doctor."

Challenges I Overcame

Physical Issues
Career Change

Interviewed By

Beating the Odds

Beating the Odds

Overcoming barriers as a first-generation college student