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.