The story so far
Todd has been the protagonist in a number of adventures, including marriage and parenthood, 15 years in the U.S. Army and five combat deployments — plus a brush with death after a routine training accident. His latest chapter brings him to USC to earn a Master of Business for Veterans (MBV) degree and a Master of Science in Entrepreneurship and Innovation (MSEI) degree.
An Army Sergeant First Class, Todd demoted himself to cadet for his next tour of duty: two years as an ROTC student, as part of the exclusive Green to Gold program. The Green to Gold program provides opportunities for soldiers interested in pursuing advanced degrees while earning a commission as an Army officer. The program is elite, accepting only about 75 top-performing active duty service members from across the nation each year.
After three relocations in four years, Todd looked into the program as an option that would enable his family to experience some “normalcy.” It would also give him the chance for a more traditional college experience. He earned his undergraduate degree in health and wellness with 180 credit hours from four different universities, taking online courses between deployments.
Once accepted to USC, Todd didn’t waste time on going all in. With his wife Arlene’s blessing, he joined the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity, practices six days a week with the crew team at the Port of Los Angeles and immerses himself in campus life.
“When I graduate, I’ll commission in the summer of 2017 and become an officer,” Todd said. “I’ll be the oldest lieutenant in the army on that day.” His fraternity brothers affectionately call him “Grandpa.”
At the ripe old age of 33, that is.
Todd was a military kid, whose father (Army) and grandfather (Air Force) both served more than 20 years in the military. “I’m not from anywhere,” he said. “I’ve moved around my entire life. I even have an adopted sister from Korea from when I lived there as a kid.
For the last six years of his career, Todd was Senior Religious Affairs Non-Commissioned Officer for all of Army Special Forces Command (Airborne), managing more than 60 people in 13 time zones. With his leadership experience, it made sense to pursue a degree in business.
“I attribute a lot of my success in the Army to my people skills,” he said. “I recognized talent in soldiers and said, let’s expose this and use this and pull it out of them. Some leaders may be threatened by people that outperform them, but I think that’s value added.”