Berkeley Today Stories

Berkeley College Online® student John Russo

Grammy-Nominated Artists Add a New Dimension to the Mix by Pursuing Degrees through Berkeley College Online®

February 2014

Recording artist John Russo is going for two dreams: one as a music artist and the other as a future college graduate. Mr. Russo, a lead singer with the pop/rock band Reverse Order, whose single “Go” was nominated for a Grammy, had originally planned to take time away from college to tour with the band. That changed when he learned he could earn a college degree through Berkeley College Online® while pursuing his passion for music.

Mr. Russo is a Marketing Communications major who began attending Berkeley College in Fall 2012. “I chose to study marketing because it helps me promote our band,” Mr. Russo said. “Also, if I ever need to fall back on something, I will have my performing and marketing experience which can be applied to a position in the music industry.”

Berkeley College offers more than 20 Bachelor and Associate degree programs online and was recently recognized by U.S. News and World Report as one of the Best Online Colleges in the Bachelor Degree category.

Mr. Russo’s band mate, Reverse Order lead guitarist Drew Katsock, said he was forced to take a semester off from attending another college when the group went on an East Coast tour. After seeing Mr. Russo seamlessly juggle his online courses at Berkeley between gigs, Mr. Katsock also enrolled in the Marketing Communications program through Berkeley College Online®.

“At first I was nervous about pursuing a degree online so I took just three courses,” Mr. Katsock said. “Then I realized that I could handle a full course load, and now I’m on track to graduate ahead of schedule, despite taking a semester off.”

During a recent nationwide tour, both artists spent afternoons between gigs at a local fast food establishment where they tapped into free WiFi on their laptops to “attend” college.

Mr. Russo credits Marketing instructor Margaret Biner with equipping him with the knowledge and tools that have helped greatly in the promotion of his band nationwide.

“I consider myself very fortunate to have had both these young men in my online courses,” Ms. Biner said. “John and Drew share a willingness to work hard as well as a laser-like focus and self-discipline. Their talent and passion for music positions them well for success in the entertainment arena, but the knowledge and skills they’re learning are transferrable to most companies and organizations."

Both students are thriving in the online environment. And, according to Ms. Biner, their questions and comments on weekly discussion boards frequently set the standards for the online conversations that follow.

“What I love about pursuing my degree online at Berkeley College is that the coursework is assigned on Sunday, and you can do it whenever you want during the week as long as it is completed by Saturday,” Mr. Russo said. “We don’t have to choose between our music and college – we can have it all.”

Berkeley College Online student and Reverse Order lead singer John Russo

Reverse Order's John Russo (lead singer) performs during the Rockaway Mall Fashion Show hosted by Berkeley College students. The Grammy-nominated artists are pursuing undergraduate degrees through Berkeley College Online®.

 

“We don’t have to choose between our music and college – we can have it all.”


– John Russo
Berkeley College Online® student and musician