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Senior invited to leadership conference, improves skills

A few weeks ago I was invited to the National Youth Leadership Forum on Security in Washington D.C. for the duration of one week, March 3-9. The purpose of the program is to hone students’ leadership abilities and apply them to various simulations involving the defense of our nation.

Among the various simulations that we participated in, one had us electing ourselves into the various roles in our government between executive, legislative, diplomatic, defense and intelligence branches. I was elected as Secretary of State, with our mission being to handle a fiction set of events involving the problems of drug cartels in central America.

The simulation tested our decision making and leadership in crisis situations. Our teams would be given papers of information depending on our positions and our job was to respond to them in the best way possible.

In addition to this we did several other simulations that studied both foreign and domestic affairs. We looked at each case and how it pertained to maintaining national defense in protecting American citizens and interests around the world.

The program also featured several speakers who were in some way involved in national defense in their professional careers. We had speakers who were in the Marines, Navy, CIA, Coast Guard and many more. Each speaker told us about their experiences in their fields and then related those to some of the problems that we face today.

One of the speakers that caught my attention was Michaela Dodge, who is a Research Associate for Strategic Issues at the Heritage Foundation. Specifically she spoke to us about nuclear weapons and missile defense, which became extremely relevant as she told us how earlier that day North Korea had threatened to attack the United States.

She told us of her journey from Czechoslovakia, which was under Soviet control when she was born, to the United States. Then she went on to inform us about the various nuclear weapons policies implemented by the different U.S. presidents, specially Ronald Reagan.

I found the conversation both educational and informative being in such dangerous and uncertain times with nations like Iran and North Korea trying to develop their nuclear weapons.

In addition to listening to speakers we went to various military bases of our choice. Mine was the Marines Corps Base in Quantico, Virginia. That same day my group visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps where I had the tremendous honor of meeting a Marine who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II.

I found it a great opportunity to befriend fellow students from across the U.S., including teenagers from Puerto Rico and Guam. I learned about how diverse our nation is, and yet how similar we are in that we all want to be the next leaders in protecting our nation.

This writer can be reached via Twitter: @McKayMohun.

For more opinions, read the March 20 article, College Corner: Choosing the right college.

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