June 13, 2024

‘Do something you enjoy’

Jonathan Ross


Students in NDSU’s Master of Public Policy program are making an impact in the state as they gain critical real-world experience through hands-on capstone projects. 

Students in the program choose a community partner that meets their interests and work closely with them to benefit the student, business and community. Faith Scheuer and Jonathan Ross, who both graduated in May, were among two of the students who recently completed their capstone projects. 

Ross, who is from Bath, Maine, worked with ND Cares, a coalition of more than 40 service providers and partners that works to strengthen an accessible, seamless network of resources for service members, veterans, families and survivors. 

Ross consolidated data from the North Dakota Governor’s Challenge team, North Dakota Veterans Commissioner, 988 crisis hotline, state epidemiologist and others into one online dashboard for people to visit to get the resources they need. 

As an Army veteran with connections to the veteran community, Ross knew this was the capstone project he wanted to pursue. 

“Each day, 18.5 veterans die by suicide, which is extraordinarily high. Most of the veterans that do die by suicide are not enrolled in the VA Healthcare system, and it shows that people enrolled in the VA healthcare system die by suicide less,” Ross said. “My main piece of the project is to try and get them into the VA healthcare system.”



Scheuer worked with Central Dakota Forensic Nurse Examiners, a non-profit organization out of Bismarck, North Dakota, that provides free forensic medical exams to sexual assault victims of all ages in 23 counties in western and central North Dakota. After the 2023 Legislative session, the organization earned funding to expand their forensic medical services to victims of domestic violence, which is currently in the pilot stage with services being implemented in Bismarck and Williston. 

For her capstone, Scheuer researched laws, policies and out-of-state community protocols to condense down to help the organization plan out how to implement their new program.

“It is important to note that North Dakota did not have any policy that would provide free forensic care to domestic violence victims until now, so much of what I did was explore other states, like Minnesota, Arizona and California, to see what their protocols are and to figure out how CDFNE can personalize them to fit the needs of their organization,” said Scheuer, who is from Bismarck. 

The final stage of her project included writing a community guideline for CDFNE nurses, participating hospitals, law enforcement, advocacy centers and others to follow. 

Both Ross and Scheuer gained valuable experience from their capstones that they’ll be able to apply to their future careers. From building up communication skills to expanding on the public policy lessons they’ve already obtained from their other courses, Ross and Scheuer said their capstone projects helped prepare them for success after graduation. 

“As a student, you are isolated from the ‘real-world,’ and if you aren’t going out and working or volunteering, you start to get a jaded view of society,” Scheuer  said. “This capstone project reminded me that there are good people doing transformative things. It taught me the importance of working with people of all backgrounds and demonstrated how crucial it is to think of things in a larger picture.”

“This experience taught me that not everything you do will be successful. People will try to question you and challenge your ideas, and sometimes they win, but that doesn’t mean you stop trying,” Scheuer said. “I hope to take these lessons with me to apply in my life and pass them onto others in the future.”

Ross hopes to work for the VA or with the North Dakota Veteran’s Commissioner after graduation. Scheuer will attend law school and is interested in learning more about the Legislative Council in Bismarck’s work. 

Their advice for future master of public policy students is to pursue what you’re passionate about and to seek out opportunities that help nonprofits.  

“Do something you enjoy. Find something that you’re really passionate about, like education or the environment, and just run with it,” Ross said. 

Apply now to make your own impact on a cause that matters. Schedule a visit to see what NDSU has to offer. 

Start your NDSU experience by completing your application.