Capella University’s Public Service Challenge Awards Three Winners $10,000 Each for Their Contributions to Public Service

Minneapolis — Every aspect of our community is connected — from health care, to public safety, to government agencies, to volunteer organizations. Today, collaboration is critical across the fields of public service. Capella University, an accredited online university* that has built its reputation by providing high quality online degree programs for working adults, is proud to honor three individuals who exemplify this spirit through the Public Service Challenge.

The three winners will each receive either a $10,000 scholarship to Capella University; or a $10,000 charitable donation to an approved organization of their choice. In addition, each will be invited to serve on Capella’s Public Service Advisory Council, which helps shape Capella’s educational offerings to best meet the needs of public service professionals.

Jennifer Smith, an occupational therapist from Roberts, Wisconsin, is currently pursuing a Doctor of Health Administration at Capella. She is the creator of a partnership with three non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that organizes service learning trips to provide medical and therapy services to the people of Guatemala. The partnership also provides funding and supplies for the NGOs. Jennifer will receive a $10,000 scholarship to continue her education at Capella.

Shannon Staino, a resource development specialist from Cape May Court House, New Jersey, is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration at Capella. She serves her community through her career with Child Protective Services. She is also a first responder and a dedicated volunteer and organizer of events and fundraisers for a variety of causes, including pediatric cancer. Shannon will receive a $10,000 scholarship to continue her education at Capella.

Callie Roth Welstead, a Capella University faculty member in the School of Education developed an extensive improvement project with a primary school in Soweto, South Africa. She also helped form a charitable foundation called Students in Action: Education Soweto. Callie will receive a $10,000 charitable grant for the foundation, which will help continue their work with primary school students in Soweto.

“Capella realizes the critical role multi-disciplinary leaders play in today’s public service organizations,” said Suzanne Holmes, associate dean of Capella’s School of Public Service Leadership. “We are pleased to be able to contribute to advancing these roles by awarding the Public Service Challenge scholarships and donations to these dedicated individuals.”

Forty-three individuals submitted inspiring videos showcasing the extraordinary ways they are making a difference every day. The 20 videos that received the most votes became finalists, and 3 winners were chosen by a committee who evaluated each video on the following selection criteria:

A demonstrated desire to make a difference.

  • The ability to bring people across professions together to address complex challenges and/or opportunities.
  • Strong leadership qualities aimed at motivating, encouraging, and/or helping others. 
  • Understanding of the importance of public service and what it means to be a public servant in the 21st century. 
  • An explanation of how education has affected the applicant’s life.

Stay informed about next year’s challenge by emailing your contact information to:

Capella recently launched the School of Public Service Leadership (, which focuses on a multidisciplinary approach that is designed to expose learners to parallel disciplines, so that they can partner with health care, public safety, and public administration professionals to solve public service challenges.

More than 38,000 students are pursuing an online degree at Capella University (, with 31 percent enrolled in doctoral degree programs, 47 percent enrolled in master’s degree programs, and 21 percent in bachelor’s degree programs.

About Capella University
Capella University is an accredited online university* that has built its reputation by providing quality online degree programs for working adults. Nearly 80 percent of Capella students are currently enrolled in master’s or doctoral online degree programs in the fields of business, counseling, education, human services, information technology, nursing, psychology, public administration, public health, public safety, and social work. Capella also offers bachelor’s degree programs in business, information technology, nursing, psychology, public administration, and public safety. Within those areas, Capella currently offers 137 graduate and undergraduate specializations and 15 certificate programs. More than 38,000 learners were enrolled as of June 30, 2010, from all 50 states and 52 other countries. Capella is committed to providing high-caliber academic excellence and pursuing balanced business growth.

Founded in 1993, Capella University is a wholly owned subsidiary of Capella Education Company, headquartered in Minneapolis. For more information, please visit or call 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552).

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* Capella University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA),

Capella University, Capella Tower, 225 South Sixth Street, Ninth Floor, Minneapolis, MN 55402, 1.888.CAPELLA (227.3552),


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