151209cotc01 400Norfolk, VA. Supreme Allied Commander Transformation (SACT), General Denis Mercier held a news conference for 11 local journalism students from Norfolk State, Regent and Hampton Universities during the annual Chiefs of Transformation Conference (COTC) at the Waterside Marriott in Downtown Norfolk December 9.

COTC is an annual forum for invited chiefs of transformation 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.

151209cotc03 200"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. The opportunity was once in a lifetime and something I will always cherish" said Hampton University student Atiya Strange.

151209cotc04 200This 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.

151209cotc02 200"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.

ACT is the only permanent NATO headquarters located outside of Europe and is the leading agent for change; driving, facilitating and advocating continuous improvement of the Alliance. Its aim is to improve relationships, interaction and practical cooperation with member nations, partners and international organisations.

The three universities that participated in this event are also hosting their respective versions of this story on their official websites. To learn more, please click on the following links:

Norfolk State University  Hampton University  Regent University Regent University
Gender Issues Panel
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