An impossible dream—that’s what Carlos Ibarra was chasing as he ran from New York to California. Ibarra completed his goal of running across America and documented his encounters with people along the way in a video series.
Last Tuesday, Ibarra gave a guest lecture for the Meredith Center for Magazine Studies Visiting Professional Series. He spoke to a small crowd in the Cowles Reading Room.
The presentation started with clips from his documentary series. These showed a jumble of clips of Ibarra running on highways and dirt roads and interviews with Americans across the country. The mission of his documentary was simple: hear the stories of the people he shares this country with and document their versions of the “American dream.”
Ibarra’s message was an uplifting one, and junior Maggie Dickman said that was why the Magazine Center wanted to feature him in its Visiting Professional Series.
“Journalists are storytellers, and although Ibarra didn’t tell a traditional written story like we’re used to seeing as journalists, he had a visual story to tell,” said Dickman, who helped organize the event. “Carlos has an inspirational message to share that seemed to be perfect for us as college students about to enter the workforce. He encourages people to push themselves to make dreams a reality.”
After showing the video, Ibarra surveyed the audience to get a feel for where students were in their educational journeys. With a few seniors and several juniors in the crowd, he focused his talk on achieving goals after graduation.
Elaina Steenson attended the event and said she appreciated this focus.
“His journey shows perseverance and dedication to a dream and an ambition,” Steenson said. “Drake, similarly to Ibarra, teaches students to persevere and not give up even when others doubt you, or even when you doubt yourself.”
Journalism student Grace Piper also appreciated Ibarra’s message. Ibarra shared that others told him he couldn’t run across the country, but these voices only added to his motivation. Piper said she puts herself down, and hearing about Ibarra’s success in the face of doubt made her more confident.
“Instead of teachers or authority figures putting dreams and ideas down, I put my ideas down as being unrealistic or completely unable to achieve,” Piper said. “Hearing Ibarra talk about how people said the same things to him, and how at times he told himself that he couldn’t do it spoke to me. He had an idea, and he didn’t let himself or other people crush it and he wants kids and adults like myself to do the same—value your idea and your worth and carry it out even if those around you say it might not be possible.”
The end of the documentary clip showed the end of Ibarra’s journey: he ran 2,942 miles in 72 days. The video ended with Ibarra running across Huntington Beach in California and straight into the ocean, his arms held high in victory.
Dickman said that this victory inspired her to dream as big as possible, and keep striving to reach those dreams.
“He is living proof that hard work and determination can make any dream a reality, and that is encouragement as I start thinking about what I want to do post-graduation,” Dickman said. “No dream is too big, and I’m grateful that he helped me realize that.”