Rossier Graduate Students in Focus

Chuck EspinozaChuck Espinoza is a professional photographer in the Los Angeles area. We asked him to photograph our USC Rossier graduates during the spring 2014 graduation reception and to share his perspective on online education after meeting the alumni. Here’s his story.

It was a pleasure photographing the USC Rossier graduate students. This particular shoot was close to home. My wife is a high school teacher with a master’s degree in education, my mother-in-law is a retired elementary school teacher and my father-in-law also took up teaching as a second career. My wife also worked as an administrator for a couple years and is still in a quasi-administrative roll and sits on many interview panels for her high school.

Although I have photographed many graduating seniors, this is the first time I have had the opportunity to shoot portraits on a one-on-one basis that allowed me a chance to get to know them and their situation. Everyone I photographed had a sense of excitement about their degree and their new endeavors. Because of the stories I hear from my wife I know how challenging the market is for teaching jobs, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear that they had all secured jobs. Several of the students were moving on to non-traditional teaching jobs that sounded both rewarding and exciting.

Prior to my discussions with these students, my experience with online education was limited and not comparable to the experience they described. In my personal efforts at continuing education I have spent many hours on the computer watching three-day or weeklong seminars. Although informative and a convenient way to learn, it’s a very one-sided experience. I have to digest the information at the pace of the instructor and have very limited interaction with the instructor via chat. Other experiences I heard about on the college level sounded like a self-study, pass the test type of situation.

Sarah Tomlinson and parents at USC Rossier Graduation Reception 2014

USC Rossier graduate Sarah Tomlinson (’14 MAT-TESOL) and her parents at the graduation reception.

The experience the USC Rossier students described sounded like a great alternative to the classroom experience and allowed many students access to USC without needing to live in Los Angeles. It was a refreshing look at the potential for online education.

I took the opportunity to shoot some of the graduates with their parents or significant other. I also had the chance to talk to parents and I could see how proud they were with their graduate’s accomplishment and future endeavors. Those were some of my favorite shots taken that day.