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Three Veterans Successfully Step Beyond the Battlefield with a Short Course, Boot Camp, and MBA

Written by Bannon Puckett on May 28, 2021

Related content: Graduate Programs, Short Courses, Outcomes

Courage. Honor. Sacrifice. Across the world, millions of servicemen and women in the U.S. military and NATO embody these values each and every day. To them, we owe our freedom—and endless gratitude.

In honor of Memorial Day and Military Appreciation Month, we shine a spotlight on three inspiring veterans whose experiences in 2U-powered programs helped them chart the next successful step in their careers.

Here are their stories.

Mohammed Wardeh with his three children

From One Boot Camp to Another

When the Syrian War erupted, Mohammed Wardeh was stuck. Struggling to make ends meet in NYC, he had planned on returning home to Syria for financial support. Now, going back was a death sentence.

“I had no country. No money. And a family,” said Mohammed. “I was done.”

As violence ravaged Syria, Mohammed tossed through sleepless nights wondering how to protect his wife and young children. “I didn’t know what to do, so I applied for political asylum,” he said. “I told them my story.”

A year later, Mohammed walked into an immigration office and heard three words that changed everything: Welcome to America.

Green card in hand and a sense of security achieved, he immediately thought, “I have to give something back.” With that, Mohammed resolved to put gratitude in action. He didn’t have money to spare, so instead he gave time, joining the National Guard as a way of thanking his new country.

While Mohammed’s green card transformed his reality, life in the U.S. was still demanding—and the Wardeh family continued to struggle financially. “I needed a chance,” said Mohammed. That’s when he saw an ad for the Rutgers Coding Boot Camp, powered by Trilogy Education, a brand of 2U, Inc. This is it, he thought.

Fast forward to today, and Mohammed—now working as a software engineering manager—has finally achieved his American Dream. “Trilogy changes lives,” he said. This he knows with complete certainty. How? “Because they changed mine.”

Nigel Preisner

Negotiating a Battlefield

Nothing could stop Nigel Preisner from finishing his short course on strategic negotiations: not the frequent internet outages, not the riots, not the blockades—not even a nearby drone strike that shook him awake one night from his bed in Baghdad and preceded his emergency evacuation from the country.

Nigel had enrolled in the UC Davis Graduate School of Management Strategic Negotiations course, powered by GetSmarter, a brand of 2U, Inc., while working as country manager of language capability for NATO Mission Iraq. In his role, he recruited and trained local interpreters for strategic, high-level language services that were employed for a range of circumstances, from on-the-spot translation for generals and senior diplomats to professional training for non-commissioned officers.

Having chosen the course for its practical approach, Nigel found many of the lessons coming in handy on the job almost immediately.

Ayman Mageed

“The Mission Does Not End There”

As a U.S. Army veteran and graduate of the online MBA program at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School (MBA@UNC), Ayman Mageed has firsthand advice for men and women transitioning out of the military.

“As you find yourself leaving the service, please take a moment to look back at all the accomplishments and sacrifices that got you where you are today,” he said. “The mission does not end there. Explore industries you might be interested in. Do not settle for a job; pursue a career.”

Ayman also emphasizes the importance of leveraging resources to get ahead. “The GI Bill is a great tool to be used for your advancement,” he shared. “MBA@UNC offers outstanding veteran resources, and the GI Bill can cover all tuition and fees minus any program costs. You should create a roadmap for your education and certification path and tie in your critical dates to include military discharge and possible relocation. Network with everyone and reach out to other veterans on LinkedIn; we are always willing to help and share advice. One of my last commanders always reiterated the importance of being ‘value-added.’ As you enter your new career, observe the organization, learn your environment, and always seek to be value-added.”


May is Military Appreciation Month, but we’re committed to celebrating inspiring individuals like Mohammed, Nigel, and Ayman all year long. To the brave men and women who have served: thank you, today and every day.

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