Retired Rear Admiral Praises His National University Experience

EVP at Navy Federal Credit Union encourages students to establish a rhythm

When military students earn a degree from National University, it doesn’t guarantee that they will become admirals or executive vice presidents in the banking industry; but it has happened.

Alumnus Steven Romano was a rear admiral in the U.S. Navy. He retired about five years ago and currently serves as an executive vice president for Navy Federal Credit Union. For our purposes, his story begins as an ambitious logistics lieutenant in San Diego, just back from sea duty in the late 1980s.

“I knew I had a three-year shore tour, and that I needed a master’s degree to advance in the Navy, but I didn’t want to put my career on hold to go back to school,” Romano recalls.  “National University appealed to me because it was convenient and fit my schedule.”

What the busy lieutenant discovered was a practical program that matched his specialty. Many of his classmates were active duty military, DOD contractors or Navy civilians. “There was a Navy SEAL who would show up to class with the impression from his swim goggles still on his face,” Romano adds.

He says that National University faculty taught from a practical perspective; that working professionals would bring real world issues to class, and that he would often leave with relevant information that he could apply on duty the next day. “The professors weren’t the only experts in the room,” Romano emphasizes.

Romano's education was a great investment that would serve him well for years to come.  He went on to develop joint logistics doctrine and strategic guidance to the Department of Defense logistics community, and as a flag officer Romano eventually signed numerous logistics agreements with partner nations.

Today the Virginia-based alumnus leads 3,600 team members at 278 Navy Federal branch offices worldwide and manages networks of over 55,000 automated teller machines. If he could share just one tip to help other veterans achieve the success he has, it would be stay in class every month.

As someone who’s run a marathon, Romano talks about the importance of rhythm and pacing and compares National University’s one-course-per-month format to a long distance race.  “If you stop at mile 20, it’s hard to get going again,” he says.

“My advice is to stay enrolled from month-to-month until you complete your degree. I attended for 16 straight months. My experience at National helped me on the job, and provided me with the tools and knowledge to be successful,” Romano adds. “It’s a great opportunity for any active duty or veteran student, and you’re likely to meet some very cool and influential people in your classes.”