When we refreshed the ACE look earlier this year, it included the faces of ACE alumni, faculty and staff on ace.edu and across our social media. We knew they would be the best at telling our story, so we wanted a chance to tell theirs, too, in this occasional blog series.
In this post, let’s get to know Eddie Rodriguez-Freire, an M.Ed. in Instructional Design & Technology student scheduled to graduate this year.
ACE: Tell us a little about yourself.
Eddie Rodriguez-Freire (ER): I have been in production, mostly video and media, for as long as I can remember. But I also was a teacher when I first got out of college. I realized that the marriage of education and production was getting a new life with online education. I worked at a college in Florida, where I saw how web design, video production, animation and all these things get married together to give students an experience you just don’t get face to face. So I fell in love. Now I work at ACE as a content instructional designer.
ACE: Where and how did you first hear about American College of Education?
ER: That’s a strange story. I heard of ACE through my wife, who is a graduate of ACE. She was pregnant with my first son when she went through her program, and I would see her studying at night. I saw how she had a certain schedule and got through it. She had the baby and still went to do her final! So I was not only proud, but impressed at how she could balance everything.
ACE: What was that experience like of taking an online course after having been behind the scenes developing so many?
ER: I had never taken an online class before. My experience was initial nervousness. But the structure developed by ACE allows you to set your own schedule. As long as you get that balance, it’s very easy to find your flow. It was a surprising experience and I was like, “Wow, this is probably what everybody else should be doing.”
ACE: Why was ACE ultimately the right direction for you?
ER: As a student, I found myself motivated. At other colleges, there are different silos of people that do different jobs. At ACE, everybody knew everybody. “Let me send you here, let me have them answer this for you.” You did not feel lost or without direction, and that’s something very important for working adults. Most people right now have one, two jobs. They have three kids. With all this going on, it helps to have direction. Tell me where to go and I’ll get to the end of the line, but you got to tell me where to start.
ACE: What do you want to do with your career now that you have your master’s?
ER: Using my master’s in instructional design, I’d like to lead a team. ACE is growing and our production team should grow with it. I’d like to lead that charge, to not only move forward with video but explore augmented reality, virtual reality, 3D. With me getting that push forward thanks to that master’s degree, I’m able to say, “Look, I can handle this. I know where I can go. ACE pointed me in the right direction.”
ACE: What would you tell a prospective student, especially one who is juggling work and family responsibilities, who is seriously looking into going back to school?
ER: I would tell a prospective student not to be afraid. Fear is something that’s in all of us, especially people with a lot of responsibilities. You are afraid that you’re juggling all these things and they’re all going to break at the same time. ACE is there to catch you, to make sure that you’re getting what you need and to make sure that you get to the finish line. I was the person who was terrified about going back to school. Now I wish I would’ve done this sooner.