FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- Cynthia Claridge, U.S. Army Special Operations Command, G-2 intel analyst, is the first in U.S. Army Special Operations Command Headquarters to graduate the Joint Special Operations University Master's Certificate program.

The program, according to Clatridge, requires a Bachelor's degree at a minimum, and will translate to up to 12 credit hours towards a Master's degree based on the individual's degree program. However, she attended for different reasons.

"I guess I felt like if I wanted to give more, I have to learn more. It was a defining moment for me," Claridge said. "I like coming to work and I like working for SOF (Special Operations Forces), so why not learn everything I can about it."

Claridge is regarded as a person who expects much from herself and as someone who sets a good example for others to follow.

"She is a go-getter, she does not stand idle and she is geared towards self-improvement, which is the primary reason why she is the first person within USASOC to be presented the JSOU (Joint Special Operations University) Master's Certificate," Thomas J. McCarthy, USASOC G-2 senior intelligence analyst, said. "She has high aspirations to excel within the civilian rank structure as well, I think her highest (goal) is to be an SES (Senior Executive Service)."

McCarthy notes that in order to attend this course, you must be nominated by your leadership and that Claridge's leadership was more than willing to send her. Inspired by Claridge, he says he has already requested to attend the course himself. He already possesses a Master's degree, but he sees the value in the education provided by JSOU.

"In seeking completion of these four courses, they only improve your ability to understand how to support SOF operations in terms of planning, interagency environment, clandestine operations, and how best to use intel to support those," McCarthy said.

The requirements to achieve the Master's Certificate offered by JSOU are: to be nominated by your supervisor, provide two recommendation letters, a bio, possess a bachelor's degree, fill out a packet, and to complete the four required courses.

At the core of the program are four required courses candidates must complete in order to be awarded the certificate: Evolution of U.S. Special Operations Forces, International and Interagency Special Operations, Strategic Utility of Special Operations, and Employment of Special Operations.

These courses have a three to four week distance learning phase, followed by two weeks in-residence, and then two to three weeks post residence to complete research papers.

"Everything I've learned throughout these four courses, I'm using every day," Claridge said. "There are people who don't understand SOF and our capabilities, and what SOF provides to conventional and intelligence communities."

In total, there have been 23 students who have completed this program. Claridge was the 7th out of the 23, but is the first within USASOC HQ.

"It has (this program) made me a better analyst and individual. I now better-understand our heritage, and I understand the importance of SOF throughout history," Claridge said. "It makes me proud of the organization I work for."