For 60 years, the MSC Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA) has provided Aggies a glimpse into the decision-making processes that govern our nation and world. Each year the conference attracts participants from around the world—including academic scholars, government officials, and public figures—to take discuss important issues and begin formulating policies that can address these issues.
Students participating in the conference not only realize tremendous personal growth in terms of their familiarity with current issues, critical thinking, and problem-solving skills, but they also develop lasting friendships, self-confidence, and critical real-world experience addressing tough problems.
Texas A&M students are particularly fortunate since our campus is one of a handful that participates in the U.S. Army War College’s International Strategic Crisis Negotiation Exercise (ISCNE). For five years, this special pre-conference program has paired students with military experts and professors to learn in-depth information about a real-life international diplomatic crisis. Students then play the roles of the decision-makers to come to a creative solution and promote a resolution to the conflict.
University Scholar Hunter Hampton ’16, an international studies major from Keller, TX, serves as the Chief of Staff for the 60th anniversary conference. He took the time to answer some questions about how his role in SCONA relates to his long-term goals.
How did you get involved in SCONA?
I learned about SCONA before even starting my Freshman Year at A&M through the Texas A&M Student Activities Website. I wanted to join an organization that both matched up with my career goals, allowing me to learn more about national affairs and participate in its discussion, and also that contributed to better civic education, which I think is very important in these times. In my first year, I served as a member of the Research Sub-committee, as a member of the Vietnam delegation in the ISCNE, and as a Roundtable Host for the Human Rights subtopic during the conference itself. I fell in love with the organization that year and since then it’s been one of the defining features of my college career.
How do you see your participation in SCONA helping to prepare you for your long-term goals?
Being a part of SCONA has not only taught me about national affairs, but also about professionalism, time management, good communication skills, coordination of simultaneous activities, and many more traits that are required to be successful in a career. Most importantly though, I have learned the importance of training and educating upcoming generations of leadership. Passing on the skills you yourself have learned so that they can be refined and improved by the next generation is one of the greatest honors that I have had as a member of SCONA.
What other experiences are you pursuing to help you prepare for your goals?
This summer, I will be working at the Institute for European Politics in Berlin, Germany, as part of PPIP. I’m also working on a research project for Undergraduate Research Scholars.
Like many of the MSC committees, SCONA’s focus on grappling with real-world issues and providing valuable personal, professional, and intellectual growth is a great fit for Honors students who are seeking an enriched undergraduate experience.
For more information about SCONA, or to get involved, visit http://scona.tamu.edu. To listen to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Demsey’s keynote at SCONA 60, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GqWkOITJ3Lw.
To learn more about Hunter’s experience as an Honors Student at Texas A&M, visit his ePortfolio at http://hunterahampton.weebly.com.