This past January I had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest University at the 2015 United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference in Annapolis, Maryland. The mission of the conference is to address specific issues facing emerging leaders in both the military and civilian world by breeding understanding and identifying successful themes to overcome such obstacles. The four day conference was a mixture of panel discussions, small breakout groups, and informal dialogues amongst conference attendees. The participants ranged from ROTC cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen to civilian university students and professors which permitted very productive conversations on how to address ethical issues in the information age. The speakers ranged from Pat Finn, Cisco’s U.S. public sector vice president, to General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan; the diversity of life experiences which each speaker brought to the conference was matched by those of the participants in the conference having the effect of breeding a productive and friendly environment for discussion. My resounding takeaway from the conference was the high degree of similarity which characterizes successful and ethical leadership regardless of context. Overall the conference was very inspiring for me personally and I am honored to have had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest University and the Department of Politics and International Affairs.
This past November, I represented Wake Forest at the 66th Annual Student Conference on U.S. Policy held at West Point Military Academy. Students from all over the world attend the conference each year to facilitate collaboration between civilian student delegates and West Point cadets. The task of this year’s conference was to determine “What’s the Worst that Could Happen” in terms of international crises and develop foreign policy suggestions advising the United States how to respond. Each day, we engaged in round table discussions focused on a specific type of international crisis. My round table topic was ‘Constitutions and Coup D’etats’ and at the end of the weekend we presented a paper about our research. In addition to the round table discussions, we attended panel lectures and listened to an address by the key note speaker Thomas Pickering. Working and living with the West Point cadets for the duration of the conference was an awesome experience and I am very grateful I had the opportunity to attend.
In March, I attended the 7th Annual Clinton Global Initiative-University meeting in Phoenix, Arizona. The annual meeting, which was hosted by President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton brought together more than 1000 innovative student leaders from all over the world. In addition to the Clinton family, I was able to hear and interact with other speakers such as Jimmy Kimmel; Senator John McCain; Jimmy Wales, Founder of Wikipedia; Premal Shah, President of Kiva; Maria Elena Salina, Anchor of Univision News and many others. During the meeting, I was also recognized on stage for my Commitment to Action, Somali Diaspora Corps, by Lauryn Williams, a 3 time American Olympic Medalist.
In April, I had the pleasure of attending the 4th annual ACC Meetings of the Minds hosted at the University of Pittsburgh. The undergraduate conference brings together 8-10 students from each school in the ACC to present their academic research. As one of Wake Forest’s representatives, I had the opportunity to showcase my Richter research on the geopolitical “great game” Russia and the United States have played over oil and natural gas reserves in the Caspian Sea Basin.
Over a two day period, I enjoyed meeting with other student-researchers and learning about their compelling work. The projects covered a wide range of subjects, from history and linguistics to the hard sciences. At night, we were fortunate to hear from several distinguished speakers and visit the Andy Warhol Museum in Downtown Pittsburg. By the end of the experience, I found myself impressed by the work of my peers and the ACC’s continued commitment to undergraduate research.
I’m a big believer that student’s should engage in undergraduate research during their time in school. Going forward, I’m excited to see the future iterations of the ACC Meeting of the Minds and I strongly encourage students of the Department of Politics and International Affairs to take part in this fantastic program.
My experience as a Presidential Fellow with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress was extremely eye opening and rewarding for me. The Center, a Washington, D.C. based non-profit research and education organization, encourages current political leaders to make informed and effective policy decisions irrespective of partisan associations. My experiences with both the speakers in the Fall and Spring conferences and with the 70+ fellows gave me hope that our political future can reflect the ideals of the Center. The intelligence, passion, inquisitiveness, and kindness of my peer fellows were the highlights of both conferences with the CSPC.
In addition to the wonderful speakers during the conference (including Senators Susan Rice and Joe Manchin) the CSPC introduced fellows to the process of workshopping papers for publication and provided each fellow with a mentor who was knowledgeable of that fellow’s paper topic. My topic–Congressional amelioration or complication of jurisdictional questions in “Indian Country”–became increasingly interesting as my mentors and conference small group challenged me to expand my analysis and ask deeper questions. Through my experiences, I have made meaningful connections, gained a deeper understanding of the workings of the federal government, and heard the many perspectives of a diverse and insightful group of future leaders. I will take wonderful memories from my time in the Nation’s capital and at the CSPC. Thank you to the Department of Politics and International Affairs for granting me this opportunity!
I attended the 54th Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs conference in April. The theme of this year’s conference was “Human Security in the Information Age,” so we listened to panels about “The Dark Side of the Information Age,” with speakers like the president of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children. That was horrifying – there are truly awful things happening on the internet and I had no idea! There was also a panel called “Political Action in the Information Age,” with the Estonian Ambassador to the US and a managing editor from the Wall Street Journal. We got to hear incredible speakers, including Former President Bill Clinton, and former director of NSA, Michael Hayden. In my roundtable, which was called “The Fading Line Between Man and Machine,” we talked about the latest technology in robotics, and 3D printing, and what these mean for the future of the human race. We talked about technology in warfare and manufacturing, and the ethical dilemmas that are associated with the new technologies. The conference really stresses International Affairs – so many students from other countries were attending. In my roundtable, there were students from South Korea, Poland, the Dominican Republic, Japan. In other roundtables, students represented Italy, the UK, and Mexico. Overall, I had a really great time and met a lot of great people! So thanks to the Department for sending me!
This past fall I had the privilege of attending the 65th Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA 65), hosted by West Point Military Academy. This year’s theme was demographics and population change, and I participated in a round table discussion that focused on these factors as sources of instability in the Middle East. We discussed these issues in the frame of the youth population bulge in the Middle East, and in the end, we drafted a white paper on our recommendations for US foreign policy.
Outside of my round table discussion, I also attended panel discussions by experts in various fields of foreign policy, a keynote address from Brent Scowcroft, and a weapons demonstration by West Point cadets. Aside from these formal proceedings, I was also fortunate to interact with many cadets on a more personal level. I stayed in the barracks with cadets where I was able to experience morning formation at 6 AM, along with many stories about their lives as both students and soldiers. This conference was an amazing experience, and I am truly fortunate to have been chosen.
This past fall I had the privilege of attending the 64th Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA 64), hosted by West Point Military Academy. This year’s theme was “Leading in Lean Times: Assuring Accountability and Assessing American Priorities in an Age of Austerity.” The conference featured 16 round tables where students discussed, debated, and drafted policy papers on national security issues pertaining to the United States. The challenge was framing these policy papers within the context of austerity; how to face global challenges while consolidating the United States debt. I sat on the round table “Can’t Stop Da Bomb: Arms Control and Proliferation” where we discussed Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the threat nuclear weapons pose to United States national security.
In between round table sessions I attended panel discussions, keynote addresses, and toured the West Point campus. Aside from the formal proceedings, I was also fortunate to interact with many cadets on a more personal level. I stayed in the barracks with cadets where I experienced firsthand the unique routine that cadets follow on a daily basis. Be it the 6:00 am daily wake up, the full day of classes, or the mandatory workouts and conditioning, I was thoroughly impressed by how much these cadets take on and how well they balance all of their duties. Having connected with them on a personal and academic level, I feel safe and blessed knowing these fine men and women will be the future officers of the United States Army.
The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress was an incredible experience for me. Having the honor of representing Wake Forest at an academic conference was very exciting for me, but it was the experience of meeting other fellows from across the country and sharing ideas that was the most memorable. Just being in the room with some of the speakers and honored guests (i.e Former Justice O’Connor) who attended our fall and spring conferences was a once in a lifetime experience. I was very fortunate in that I found a topic that was really fascinating to me with drone warfare. As I researched and wrote my paper, there were more articles coming out daily about the latest developments in the drone warfare debate. With the help of a CSPC mentor in Washington and several WFU professors, putting together the research paper for the spring conference was actually very rewarding. I have nothing but positive things to say about the entire fellowship experience–the people I met were outstanding and the opportunity to engage with minds young and old about today’s biggest political issues was as rewarding an experience as any I’ve had as a Wake Forest student.
This April, I had the privilege to represent Wake Forest at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis. Over the course of three very full days, we heard from politicians, military leaders, journalists, and academics, we discussed foreign policy in breakout groups, and we learned what it was like to be a Midshipman at the Naval Academy. We were also able to fit in an afternoon of sailing and touring “the Yard.”
The theme of this year’s conference was “A Time of Transition” so we addressed the rebalancing toward Asia, the immediate threats to the United States, and what our nation’s long-term course of action should look like. Some of the speakers were former Dep. Sec. State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and Admiral McRaven. It was truly fascinating to hear the perspectives of those who shape and enact foreign policy. Probably, my biggest takeaway from my conference experience was the time that I spent with the Midshipmen. I found the Midshipmen to be just as intellectually engaged and dynamic as students at Wake Forest. And after getting to know many Midshipmen, I am happy to know that our country will be served by such fine military officers. Overall, I am very thankful for this experience and it is one of my greatest academic memories from my time at Wake Forest.