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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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MSC SCONA to draw in high-ranking officials, over 200 students

Photo by Provided

Attendees at MSC SCONA have the opportunity to interact with top U.S. officials.

Students will get the chance this weekend to participate in an activity most would assume are reserved for the political elites.
The 62nd annual MSC Student Conference On National Affairs (SCONA) will host more than 200 students, with the aim of creating solutions to the problems associated with the theme, “Against All Enemies Foreign and Domestic: Securing the Homeland.”
“The conference is all about getting together students from all across the country who have an interest in public service, national security and helping them hone in those skills both professionally and academically,” said SCONA chair Morgan Anderson. “Not only does this bring national exposure because we bring in national exposure because we bring in national leaders here, it brings a spotlight to Texas A&M as well as it is bringing students to understand what is at stake with our country.”
The conference guest speakers will be Admiral Michael Rogers, director of the NSA and commander of U.S. Cyber Command, General Robert Neller, commandant of the Marine Corps, Tawfiq Hamid, former Islamic extremist and author, Charles McMillan, director of Los Alamos National Laboratory and General William Rapp, commandant of the U.S. Army College.
“We tried to balance between military and nonmilitary because we are sometimes known for having very dynamic high-ranking military speakers,” said Caitlin Cook, SCONA chief of logistics and international studies senior. “We wanted to bring in some non-military [speakers] that still have a breadth of experience.”
Students will attend roundtable discussions on topics such as military strategy, economic security and critical infrastructure. Throughout the course of the conference the roundtables will create and refine a policy recommendation, and one team’s work will be chosen to go to Washington, D.C., into a lawmakers’ hands.
“I think that by attending the conference [students] get a better understanding of the actual material,” said Thomas Elliott, SCONA chief of communications and international studies junior. “They get to hear from the facilitators beforehand and their wide breadth of experience and hear what organizations those people have been in.”
Elliott said SCONA tried to reach out to different areas on campus this year other than political science, history and liberal arts majors — who often attend the conference — by explaining the benefits of the conference and the opportunity to showcase Texas A&M.
“We went very intentionally to those departments and said ‘Here is SCONA. Here’s how it can benefit your students,’” Elliott said. “People don’t realize there is a university of this caliber in Texas, and we are able to bring delegates from around the nation and also be able to bring those big speakers here and show them this is Texas A&M.”
Cook said students who attend the conference will get the opportunity to practice policy making.
“I hope that it will not only bring unity but also a wide understanding of why homeland security matters, the different facets of it and also engaging the students to participate in it, formulating real life, practical policy proposals to address some of these topics,” Cook said. “It’s a way to not only demonstrate the capacity of homeland security but also a way for students to have a hands on experience and actively make a change.”

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