As a lifelong photography enthusiast, Romeo "Rome" Giovani knows plenty about perspective.
He enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Superior's Master of Science in Education (MSE) in Instruction online program to gain the proper perspective to teach photography. Giovani graduated with a 3.97 GPA in May 2018. One month later, he was accepted as a member of Kappa Delta Pi, International Honor Society in Education.
"Superior had everything that I needed," he said. "The way that I look at it is, education speaks to everything we do. Everybody looks for someone who can be taught and someone who can teach. That's a benefit. I wanted to get my leg up in the world. It was a personal thing."
Based in Sparta, Wisconsin, Giovani specializes in fashion photography. The Army and Marine Corps veteran has been taking photos since the age of 17 and has worked as a professional photographer since 1997. He spent six years in the military before retiring as a disabled veteran and an E-4 Corporal in 2004.
"I traveled to 48 different countries while in the military," he said. "I was injured and wheelchair-bound for about six months. Then, I hit the real world again."
After the military, Giovani made law enforcement his full-time career.
He was hired as a security specialist by the United States Department of Defense after graduating with a bachelor's degree in organizational security management from the University of Phoenix in 2012. Â He also holds certifications in graphic design, security engineering and photography.
Because Giovani, who is originally from New Orleans, could attend any UW system school through the Wisconsin GI Bill, he could take a slightly different route than most education students.
"The master's degree program in education was a little challenging because it's a subject area that I wasn't used to," he said. "I went from a criminal justice program to being an educator. However, it actually gave me a nice idea of how people are being taught on that level. Moving it to adulthood, I could alter it to teach people better. It turned out to be good and gave me tons of perspective."
Like photography, computers have held Giovani's interest for most of his life.
"I was a one-man show and had to get things done in the military," he said. "I was in on the ground floor of web design and graphics. It was kind of neat, because I started on graphics in high school when I was a junior. I liked it and was able to carry it on in the military."
No Superiority Complex
Giovani, who also does professional graphic and web design work, is especially impressed with the UW-Superior faculty.
"The instructors are great -- that was the best part," he said. "They really helped any time that I needed something cleared up. Every time I called, they gave me a clear explanation that was easily understood. You could call them any time.
"Another thing that I liked is they didn't look at me as a non-teacher; they looked at me as one of them. They really enjoyed my perspective coming from a lot of different fields put together. That was different."
His favorite course in the MSE in Instruction online program was TED 744: Trends in Curricular and Instructional Practices.
"All of the courses were really good, but that one stood out," he said. "That one was a challenge, but I learned the most in it, and it was fun. It really gave perspective of how curricula are developed. Curriculum development is huge. It's open-ended and at the same time focused. That's what made it so difficult but rewarding at the same time."
Giovani also had significant experience with online education prior to enrolling in the master's program, which made for a seamless transition back into college.
"I did online during my entire bachelor's degree program, so I was already used to the time management you need," he said. "I typically spent about 15 hours per week on schoolwork. I worked eight hours a day at the Department of Defense, then put two or three hours a day toward school. Even with school work and a full-time job, I still managed to do photography for one or two clients a week."
Although Giovani is excited about retiring a few years down the road, he also looks forward to receiving a promotion and a pay increase at the Department of Defense now that he's a master's degree holder.
"I'm not looking for a job, but this will still help," he said. "With a master's degree, I'm able to move from a GS-8 position to a GS-11."
Once Giovani retires from the Department of Defense, he will enjoy spending the majority of his time practicing and teaching photography with the perspective of an MSE to go with his significant experience.
"My grandma loves it," he said of earning a master's degree. "The rest of my family is also pretty proud of me. I'm one of three people in my generation who have earned a master's degree."
Even though he took a significantly different path to the MSE than his classmates, Giovani believes the online program is great for any student.
"I started the program 12 months ago and had two classes a semester," he said. "If you just do it, it will be over with before you know it."
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