Student awarded "Best Policy Paper" at the Student Conference on National Affairs

By Katlyn Register, '20

Photo: Katlyn Register, Nautilus Staff

Sam Rieta (’18) poses with his round table, Mother Nature and Uncle Sam: Environmental Issues of the 21st Century, at the 62nd Annual Student Conference on National Affairs.

Sam Rieta (’18) showed what it means to be a Sea Aggie his first year attending the Memorial Student Center’s Student Conference on National Affaires (SCONA) by receiving the honor of best policy paper at the annual conference. SCONA’s 62nd conference was held from Feb. 16-18, 2017 and carried the theme Against All Enemies, Foreign and Domestic: Securing the Homeland.


SCONA traditionally consisted of students from multiple universities coming together to discuss public policy. Speakers from relevant government institutions and departments were also in attendance. The students at the conference were then assigned a “round table” which denoted what issue the students would be discussing.

These round tables were essentially the students’ team throughout the conference. Each team worked together to achieve the ultimate goal of writing a policy proposal retaining to the assigned issue. Each proposal was then presented and judged by a senior figure at the end of the conference.


Rieta chose to work on the round table Mother Nature and Uncle Sam: Environmental issues of the 21st Century. Rieta’s reason for working on the Environmental panel was because he believed the Earth is the only home we have. “[The Earth] and its protection is not only a matter of American national security but also the very livelihood of humanity,” Rieta said.


Unfortunately for Rieta, fitting environmental issues into national security proved to be harder than he was expecting but with the help and cooperation of nearly a dozen students and their round table’s advisor, Commander Michael Weaver, they were able to craft a proposal. The proposal suggested an increased adoption of alternative clean energy sources and improved coastal infrastructure to protect against the harmful effects of climate change.


After being judged at the end of the conference, Rieta and his round table’s policy paper was deemed the best at SCONA’s 62nd conference. Rieta achieved, in his first year at attendance, what many veteran attendees could only hope for.

“It was an honor to be chosen as best overall proposal after all the hard work our round table group put in,” Rieta said. If given the opportunity Rieta said it was an amazing firsthand experience and planned to continue attending SCONA’s annual conference for the years to come.