Nistler Student Wins Team-Based International Policy Competition
Anna Roaldson is a graduate student from Bismarck, ND. She will be graduating this May from the Accelerated Master of Public Administration program. Anna works as the Director of Unified Champion Schools for Special Olympics North Dakota and is also a Graduate Assistant for the Political Science and Public Administration Department. “Throughout my time at UND, I was involved in a number of organizations – including the UND Special Olympics Club, the St. Thomas Aquinas Newman Center, the American Diabetes Association, and Women in Business” exclaims Roaldson. When asked why she chose her academic program, Anna responded “I chose to enroll in the MPA degree because I wanted to gain more of the knowledge, skills, and abilities that would help me to become a successful leader in the public and nonprofit sector.”
Anna was nominated by the Political Science and Public Administration department faculty to attend the 2023 NASPAA Policy Simulation Competition. She was on a team of five where they were all given roles to complete the simulation. During the competition, Anna served as one of the Coalition Representatives. Her role was to ensure that the health and needs of the community were being well-represented. Although the simulation gave each member of the team their own personal objectives, the group had to work together to establish a wildfire mitigation plan for a fictional town. Collaboration was essential as they moved forward with each step of the plan, and as various curveballs were introduced. There were also many times throughout the process that compromise was necessary to keep the plan moving forward. When asked how she prepared for the event, Anna said “I really just relied on the knowledge that I had gained over the course of the MPA program and my undergraduate degrees to be successful.” The team went on to win the competition.
Professor Dana Harsell explained the competition and how much of an honor it is to win such an event. “To achieve this honor, Anna and her team prevailed in the Denver regional competition and then her team’s performance was reviewed and ranked by a panel of global “super judges” against the winning teams from 11 other US and international competition venues, including Vietnam, Egypt, Columbia, and the Netherlands. This year’s policy simulation centered on Wildfire mitigation and at the direction of the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration (NASPAA) executive council, included strong elements of diversity, equity, inclusiveness, and justice built into the simulation’s decision-making processes. I reviewed her team’s policy memo and presentation and there is little doubt as to why they took first place. They were thoughtful, forward thinking, detail-oriented in their recommendations, and presented like seasoned public service professionals. The hands-on nature of the simulation helped to shed light on how policy making takes place in the real world. With multiple stakeholders involved in the creation of the wildfire mitigation plan, our team had to listen to and address the diverse needs of those whose voices both were and were not represented.”
Anna mentioned that “The NASPAA Wildfire Simulation was really a great opportunity to network with other MPA students from across the United States. Beyond the competition, it has helped provide connections that will be beneficial to my future as a working professional.