Norfolk, VA— Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), General Denis Mercier held a news conference for 11 local journalism students from Hampton University, Norfolk State and Regent during the annual Chiefs of Transformation Conference (COTC) at the Waterside Marriott in Downtown Norfolk Dec 9.
Two students from the Scripps Howard School of Journalism and Communications traveled with professor Carol Davis to the COTC forum. The annual meeting is for chiefs of transformation from across the world and other stakeholders to interact and collaborate with senior leaders from Allied Command Transformation (ACT) in areas aimed at strengthening the NATO Alliance and improving interoperability. Following the first two morning discussion panels the students were able to ask General Mercier their questions during a mock news conference.
"It was an honor and a privilege to speak with General Mercier, the story that I write will be heavily influenced by that interview and is definitely going into my portfolio,” said Atiya Strange, senior Journalism major. “The opportunity was once in a lifetime and something I will always cherish.”
This outreach opportunity serves to increase public awareness and interest in NATO, foreign policy and international affairs as well as to encourage young professionals to consider working for NATO in the future. General Mercier encouraged the students to ask him anything in order to foster an interest in global affairs. Questions asked by the students included topics relating to cyber, the ISIL threat and Russia. Upon submission of their news articles, ACT will publish them on its public Website to encourage them as young journalists.
"It is very important for me to help you develop your knowledge of NATO and your skills through asking these questions. The future of this nation is you, so it is important that we spend time with you and I hope this opportunity will help further your understanding of what we do in our organization" said General Mercier.
ACT in association with the Norfolk NATO Festival also coordinates the annual Model NATO Challenge event which pairs students from Hampton Roads high schools with National Representatives from ACT to act as student diplomats in real-world scenarios the NATO Alliance faces.