Military Norwich University

Meet the SSDA Elite: Our Admissions Ambassadors

Want Intel On How the SSDA Program Can Help You Achieve Your Goals?

Don't take our word for it - take theirs. Introducing the SSDA admissions ambassadors: a group of high-achieving alumni and current students who want to help you achieve your educational goals.

Meet our admissions ambassadors, read about their military experiences and their unique Norwich education paths.

Get connected to one or more of our SSDA admissions ambassadors by completing the form on the right.

If you have more specific questions about the SSDA program, would like an informal evaluation of your transfer credits, or want to better understand what it takes to apply, call our admission office at 1-866-684-7237 or email

Terry Cole, Class of 2012

Background: A 20-year veteran of the U.S. Special Forces with assignments in 5th Special Forces Group (Airborne), 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and U. S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. Served as Site Lead for the Special Operations Technical Surveillance Course (2010-2013) and is currently a Field Service Rep for Blackbird Technologies with the U.S. Army Forces Command at Ft. Bragg, NC.

Norwich Education Path: Entered the SSDA program at Norwich in Spring 2011 and graduated (Summa Cum Laude) July 2012. Currently enrolled in Norwich's Master of Arts in Diplomacy Program and will graduate in November 2013. He hopes to pursue his PhD and eventually teach at the university level.

Keith Filipp, Class of 2012

Background: Became a Special Operations soldier in 1986 where he served in 75th Ranger Regiment, 10 Special Forces Group (Airborne) and an operational assignment in Washington, D.C. He also served as a Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. in Vicenza, Italy from 2006-2009. Retired from the U.S. Army in October 2012 after serving more than 29 years in uniform. 

Norwich Education Path: In preparation for his retirement, he pursued the SSDA program to build a credential for his past experiences in Special Forces. He has since utilized his newly obtained skills and knowledge by establishing a small consulting company that is employed by the U.S. Government. He also holds a position with Panacea Pro Corporation of Northern Virginia as Director of Business Development, Federal Group.

O'Neil Gardner, Class of 2013

Background:  Assigned to the 3rd Special Forces Group (Airborne) and currently serves as a Special Forces Intelligence Sgt.

Norwich Education Path: Completed the SSDA program in 2013 and is currently enrolled in Norwich's Master of Arts in Diplomacy Program.

Steven Grewell, Class of 2013

Background: Joining the Army in 1994, Master Sgt. Steven E. Grewell has served in positions of increasing responsibility until attaining his current enlisted rank in October 2006. He has been in Special Forces since the mid-90’s and has deployed around the world with a special emphasis in Southwest Asia/Central Command Area of Operation. In 2010, he was assigned as a Chief Instructor and Detachment Sgt. at Camp Mackall, NC. In 2012, he was assigned to 1st BN S-3 Operations at Camp Mackall as the S-3 Operations Sgt. Maj. He is currently studying for his master's at National Defense University, Ft. McNair, Washington, DC.

Norwich Education Path: Graduated Summa Cum Laude from the SSDA program in 2013.

Noah Gentilin, Class of 2014

Background: A 10-year veteran of the U.S. Special Forces (Green Berets) serving in 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne), and currently serving in the Maryland National Guard in the 20th Special Forces Group (Airborne). As a civilian he served as a Senior Intelligence Adviser to the U.S. Army’s Asymmetric Warfare Group and he currently serves as an Operations Integrator for the Joint IED Defeat Organization Operations/Intelligence Integration Center in the National Capital Region. He has deployed globally for both military and civilian assignments including multiple trips to Iraq and Afghanistan, Central America, and the Caucasus’.

Education Path: Entered the SSDA program in September 2011 and graduated Summa Cum Laude in January 2014. He hopes to pursue a master's degree either through Norwich or the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School. 

Paul Caron, Class of 2012

Background: Sgt. 1st Class Paul Caron is an Intelligence Analyst with 12 years of Active duty experience in locations such as Germany, Bosnia, and Afghanistan. Throughout his career, Sgt. 1st Class Caron has been assigned to numerous assignments working with both Conventional and Special Operations units. He is a member of the first graduating class of the SSDA program, graduating with honors.

Norwich Education Path: Completed the SSDA program in 2012 and is currently enrolled in Norwich's Master of Arts in Diplomacy Program.  

Glenn Mercer, Class of 2013

Background: Retired from the U.S. Navy after 26 years of distinguished service in the Special Operations Enterprise. He held numerous Unified COCOM, joint staff, and operational leadership positions, including: Deputy Commandant, Joint Special Operations Enlisted Academy, Tampa, FL; Command Master Chief, United States Special Operations Command Navy Element, Tampa, FL; Senior Enlisted Advisor to the U.S. Special Operations Command SG, Tampa, FL; Director, USSOCOM Human Performance Program; and successive line leadership assignments at Naval Special Warfare Command. He co-founded BWM Global Solutions in 2012 and serves as a Managing Partner.

Norwich Education Path: Graduated with honors from the SSDA program in 2013 and is currently a graduate student in Norwich's Master of Science in Leadership program.

Mark Roland, Current Student

Background: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Roland is a Special Forces Warrant Officer with 18 years of Active duty experience in locations such as Somalia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Colombia. He has been involved in the full spectrum of military operations from Humanitarian Assistance and Peacekeeping to Counter Narcoterrorism, Foreign Internal Defense, and Counterinsurgency.

Norwich Education Path: Chief Warrant Officer 2 Mark Roland is a current student in the SSDA program and is set to graduate in 2014.

Tom Wirges, Current Student

Background: Sgt. 1st Class Tom Wirges has 18 years of military service. He is currently the acting First Sergeant for Charlie Company, 437th Civil Affairs Battalion at Ft. Story Virginia Beach, VA. Sgt. 1st Class Wirges previously had been the Chief Instructor for the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School Civil Affairs Officer’s Qualification Course at Ft. Bragg, NC. He has deployed multiple times, and has been to Iraq, Kuwait, Egypt, and Jordan. He was featured in the book, Imperial Life in the Emerald City.

Norwich Education Path: Sgt. 1st Class Wirges is a current student in the SSDA program and is set to graduate in 2014. He has also earned six credits towards his Master of Arts in Diplomacy from Norwich.