Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for fall 2019 commencement.
Jose Guerrero discovered Arizona State University’s online degree programs while listening to the radio — and it changed his life.
As a native Texan hailing from College Station, Guerrero was always aware of his love of the movies, but his true inspiration came while watching a Charlie Chaplin film. Guerrero found himself intrigued by the artists behind the silver screen who were responsible for the video editing, special effects and directing that helped bring the story to life.
With this newfound inspiration and realization that his plate was becoming full while juggling a full-time job, family, freelance videographer career and physical demands of an on-ground education — Guerrero took the leap and transferred to ASU to pursue a graphic information technology major and film studies minor.
Over the past several years Guerrero has been taking classes through ASU’s online programs and gained hands-on experience with “creating storyboards by hand, developing scripts and promotions, as well as creating advertisements with motion graphics and After Effects” — skills that he plans to use in a future career as a film director.
Guerrero encourages others who are considering pursuing an online education to trust their instincts, go after their goals and “enjoy the ride.” This December, Guerrero will celebrate his educational achievement by walking across the stage in Tempe to accept his bachelor’s degree.
Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?
Answer: My "aha" moment happened when I was taking a film class for before transferring to ASU. I remember watching a Charlie Chaplin film and thinking about who was behind that editing the video, adding sound effects and directing it. I figured that a degree in graphic information technology would give me the chance to edit videos and help add special effects to make a movie great.
Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
A: I learned how to design for cross-media platforms, create storyboards for 2D-3D commercials and make marketing advertisements in my GIT 314 class. This surprised me because I thought I was only going to be reading a book and taking tests and quizzes, but instead I got hands-on experience by creating storyboards by hand, developing scripts and promotions, as well as creating advertisements with motion graphics with After Effects.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: Two years ago, I was taking classes and working for the city of Bryan, Texas from 4 a.m. to 12 p.m. as a commercial driver. I had taken all the classes I could in the afternoon, and the only way to complete my degree was to take classes that were only offered between 8 and 11 a.m. There was no way that I could make those class times while working as a full-time employee trying to support a wife and daughter.
So, one day I was listening to the radio and an ASU ad came on talking about the university and taking online classes. The next day I applied and started taking classes at ASU the summer of 2017. To be honest it was the best choice because I could still support my family and earn my degree which I’ll be earning this month. I can’t wait to walk the stage in Arizona on Dec. 17.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: The professor that taught me the most important lesson while at ASU was my GIT 314 Professor Stephanie Miles. She taught not one thing but many, including what it takes to develop ideas in the graphic industry and that it’s never too late to create something that people will remember. As a 30-year-old going into the video industry, I am a bit behind, but after taking her class and learning storyboarding, media management and planning I am confident that I will succeed after college.
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: Trust your instincts and pursue your goals. Don’t be afraid to do what you want to do in life. You only have one life to live and you’re the person living it, so do what you want to do. When you make mistakes, the wrong decisions — don’t take them seriously, just learn from them and allow yourself to make the right changes and be better. Make choices that make you feel alive, enjoy the ride, engage with others and trust yourself.
Q: As an online student, what was your favorite spot to study or to just think about life?
A: As a freelance videographer, I have my own office in my home. That is the place where I studied the most and thought about what I would be doing next. It was a place where I could close the door, cancel out all the noise and focus on what I needed to do so I could pass and graduate.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: If I was offered $40 million to solve one problem on our planet that would be finding a cure for metastatic breast cancer (MBC). This stage of cancer is the most advanced stage of breast cancer that spreads to other parts of the body including the liver, bones and brain. Three years ago, my wife and I lost a friend to MBC and we couldn’t do anything. A $40 million donation it to might lead to a small breakthrough to curing this disease.
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