Take Point Conference Multifaceted event serves student veteran

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Bryan Rutan
CONTRIBUTOR

A conference hosted last week by the University of Nebraska at Omaha’s Office of Military and
Veterans Services gave students and community members a glimpse into the world of foreign policy.

According to the event’s press release, the Take Point University (TPU) Conference is an initiative of the foreign policy think tank and the Atlantic Council. It is designed to help students gain exposure to vital aspects of foreign policy by learning from established leaders in the field.

According to Javier Saldana, veterans coordinator for the Office of Military and Veteran Services, this was the pilot run of TPU and the university is the first school to host such an event.

“The council reached out to UNO asking if we would like to be part of this unique opportunity and partnership,” Saldana said.

The conference is part of the Office of Military and Veterans Services and UNO’s ongoing commitment to provide veteran students with opportunities to advance their careers. This commitment has garnered UNO the title of Military Times’ best business school for military and veteran students seeking education beyond a bachelor’s degree for two years running.

Housed in the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center, the TPU conference provided attendees a full day of training, networking and learning, as well as an opportunity for veteran students and service members to pitch field research ideas to a panel of judges. The top prize for the research project presentations fetched upwards of 2,500 dollars to fund internships or projects relating to foreign policy.

Veteran students and service members who served after 9/11 pitched project ideas in the student veteran challenge. Saldana said the presentations included information on prevention of and response to cyberattacks and strategies relating to Russian interventionism.

A bevy of speakers including keynote speaker Representative Brad Ashford were on hand to provide conference attendees with some first-hand knowledge about pursuing a career in foreign policy. Students and community members in attendance were also given an opportunity to network with potential employers.

According to Saldana, TPU is part of the Atlantic Council’s Take Point Initiative, which focuses on providing a platform for post 9/11 veterans looking to transition into the foreign policy field where he said veterans are “overwhelmingly underrepresented.”

“The general populace tends to look toward military personnel for solutions to many of our foreign policy problems, and federal agencies are seeking veterans due to their unique skills and leadership experience,” Saldana said.

Saldana said more than 75 students were in attendance at the first ever Take Point University conference.

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