Mallory Bedford (’23) Carves Unique Path Toward Policy Career
Mallory Bedford heard Plato whisper to her in the midst of class at Seaver College. The course was Great Books I. The text was The Republic. And the lesson she learned was invaluable.
“If you look at that book, it is essentially a work of idealized public policy,” she says. “Plato is asking, ‘How do we run a state? What does a good government look like? And how do its citizens behave?’ Those questions really shaped my path moving forward.”
Bedford graduated from Seaver College in 2023, earning a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts directing with minors in both great books and digital humanities. Immediately following commencement, she moved from the sunny shores of Malibu to the high-domed ceilings of Washington, DC. On the East Coast, she took an internship conducting research at the Bipartisan Policy Center, a not-for-profit focused on promoting collaboration across the aisle. Today Bedford is earning a master of public affairs (MPA) from Brown University’s Watson Institute.
A creative focused on developing productions on the one hand, and an intellectual bent on enhancing society on the other, Bedford’s shared passions for art and policy could not seem more disparate. She claims, however, that there is a connective tissue linking her two interests, a belief she cultivated in Seaver College’s Great Books Colloquium, where Plato told her culture and legislation were coupled in humanity’s quest to flourish.
“I genuinely admire Mallory's approach to education and career,” says Jennifer Smith, Pepperdine University’s associate provost and Bedford’s former professor. “She has been imaginative in her approach to coursework and career, which has allowed her to identify how programs that seem very different from each other (theatre, digital humanities, and policy) can all come together to produce a powerful, bespoke education.”
The unique route that Bedford has carved through academia started in high school, where her dual passions were sparked.
“When I was in high school, I really loved government and policy, and I was participating in all these programs in Washington DC that combined arts and legislation,” says Bedford. “I was on the Kennedy Center Youth Council; I was a fellow at the Folger Shakespeare Library, where I worked on policy initiatives in an effort to educate children on the arts and literature. And so I chose to go to Pepperdine for the theatre and Great Books program.”
Seaver College’s Great Books program was founded in 1986 in an effort to introduce students to a variety of highly influential writers and literary texts. This unique, interdisciplinary colloquium covers topics in philosophy, politics, psychology, science, and religion. In the process, students are challenged to engage with a variety of perspectives as they read and discuss the work of great thinkers from the past and present.
Within this literary education, Bedford found that her two passions were more intertwined than she originally imagined, and she continued to pursue them both. On campus, she was the executive vice president of the Student Government Association and a member of the Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society. Bedford also took advantage of the highly regarded offerings of Pepperdine’s Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution, where she earned a conflict management certificate. Her studies with the institute provided insight into healthy collaboration––a theme that inspired her to accept an internship offer at the Bipartisan Policy Center.
Featuring a variety of Republican and Democratic lawmakers, the Bipartisan Policy Center focuses on providing legislators with the best resources to create passable laws. The not-for-profit organization was founded in 2007 and has since helped establish numerous pieces of policy, such as the 21st-Century Cures Act––which will help create impactful medical innovations for Americans suffering life-threatening diseases.
As an intern for one of the senior fellows in the center’s Presidential Leadership Initiative, Bedford flexed her ability to comprehend and report on large volumes of information. The bulk of her summer work was centered around researching past presidents and their behaviors in unique situations.
“The biggest thing I took away from my internship with the Bipartisan Policy Center was the importance of a love of learning,” says Bedford. “It was really fun to discover that there is a way to combine being in the workforce while remaining a student.”
Now at Brown, Bedford has continued to chase her unique educational passions by pursuing an MPA. She hopes that this education prepares her for a career impacting arts legislation, but when asked about her future aspirations, Bedford claims her broader goal is more in line with Plato’s aim in The Republic.
“There are so many problems in the world that I would love to help solve,” says Bedford. “The core commonalities in what I think about doing postgrad involve creating a more peaceful and cohesive society. Whatever that looks like and whatever form it takes.”