On October 24, 2018, three student delegates from Gettysburg College attended the United States Military Academy’s 70th annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA) at West Point. Kurtis Grey ‘21, Katherine Kurata ‘19, and Albert Wilson ‘21 were selected by Susan Eisenhower, the Eisenhower Institute’s Chairman Emeritus, for the qualities they demonstrated through their participation in Strategy & Leadership in Transformational Times (SALTT) and the Undergraduate Fellows program.
The student delegation applied what it learned from the Eisenhower Institute’s programming at the conference. Wilson credits SALTT for teaching him the difference between a goal, strategy, and a grand strategy. “SALTT reinforced the necessity of listening to all ideas when forming a consensus within a group,” he said.
The three students represented Gettysburg College during the four-day conference, and worked with fellow students and cadets to examine, discuss, and propose solutions to various public and foreign policy issues.This year’s theme was “Cooperation Reimagined: American Influence in an Increasingly Complex World.”
“I feel extremely lucky to have been selected to represent Gettysburg College,” said Kurata, who worked with fifteen students and two distinguished professionals on the topic of U.S.-Sino relations over the course of the conference.
Katherine Kurata (front row, second from right) with the China Round Table.
SCUSA strives to establish and enhance civil-military relationships and broaden the delegates’ contact with their peers in an academic endeavor. To do so, delegates select a specific topic prior to their arrival, and partake in a series of round table discussions throughout the time of the conference.
These discussions feature two policy experts, a cadet leader, and a mixture of undergraduate and graduate students from across the country and around the world. After completing a series of discussions on their topic, each group produces a memo recommending how the U.S. should strategically respond to the problem.
“The round table I was a part of composed a policy paper regarding the future of U.S.-Sino relations, which we collectively presented to our peers and distinguished professionals at the conclusion of the conference,” said Kurata.
In addition, delegates attend various panel discussions and hear from high-profile keynote speakers. This year’s keynote speaker was Ambassador Susan Rice, who served as President Obama’s National Security Advisor from 2013 until 2017. Prior to serving as the National Security Advisor, Ambassador Rice served as the U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations and a member of President Obama’s Cabinet.
Grey also believes the Eisenhower Institute’s year-long program SALTT prepared him for his participation in the Middle East and North Africa Round Table. “A lot of the focus was on strategic importance and the goals of each mission, which I was able to emphasize to my round table group. This knowledge was key in furthering our policy proposal,” says Grey when reflecting upon his experience at SCUSA.
Kurtis Grey (back row, center) with the Middle East and North Africa Round Table.
Founded in 1802, the United States Military Academy at West Point is one of the nation’s oldest military academics, and is the alma mater of some of the country’s most famous generals, including Dwight D. Eisenhower. SCUSA was first hosted by the United States Military Academy in 1948. The Eisenhower Institute has proudly sent a student delegation from Gettysburg College to SCUSA since 2011.