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TJ Topercer

Instructor and Naval Staff Officer, Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School


The University of Pennsylvania, Master of Science in Organizational Dynamics ’19
United States Naval Academy, Bachelor of Science in Economics ’10

“In one of my classes, I sat next to a vice president of a financial services firm and a president of a motorcycle club,” recalls Terry Joseph (TJ) Topercer, a current Organizational Dynamics student and officer in the United States Navy. He continues, “Everyone has a different story at Penn.”

TJ came to Penn with a desire to start a career in advisory and management consulting. The field aligned with his professional goals and leveraged his expertise from the Navy. “I knew I was interested in the interpersonal piece of leadership. I like the idea of helping an organization make a change, and having new projects to work on every day.”

Change is something that TJ had plenty of experience in over the past decade. A San Diego native, TJ joined the US Naval Academy on a basketball scholarship at the age of 19. After graduating, he was sent on his first deployment in 2010. His naval operations varied from tsunami relief efforts in Japan to transporting Marines around the globe. Today, TJ is an instructor and Naval Staff Officer at the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School. So, when it comes to commuting between Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia for work and graduate school, it is, according to TJ, “a breeze.”

However, TJ does share his academic success with his Organizational Dynamics professors who have become mentors. “They know I’m transitioning out of the military and have gotten to know me as a person and what my strengths are—I am extremely appreciative for their guidance.”

With his official leave from the Navy on the horizon in 2017, TJ is looking forward to starting a new professional chapter. For incoming Organizational Dynamics students, he offers advice to “Keep an open mind. When you stay within your niche, it’s easy to stovepipe your knowledge. More than anything, be prepared to be amazed by this program and its people.”

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Meet our faculty

Derek Newberry is a lecturer at Penn and a leadership development consultant in the areas of interpersonal communication, collaboration and corporate culture.