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Pepperdine | School of Public Policy

How a Pepperdine MPP Degree Prepares you for a Career in State Government

Lance Christensen SPP Alumni

Pepperdine's Unique Advantages

Lance Christensen (MPP ‘04), born in Provo, Utah, attended Brigham Young University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in English. Christensen spent a long time researching his future path following his graduation, and for a while didn’t quite know his calling. First, he researched law schools, as they seemed to be the most logical and traditional choice for a policy-related career. He also started looking at policy schools, and found Pepperdine’s School of Public Policy (SPP). He sought a degree that would help him change the world and create a better place for his friends and family. He found Pepperdine had many unique advantages, including its location along the Pacific Rim which provided access to many global issues; ranging from national security to global economics. When Christensen first came to SPP, he immediately noted the faculty’s care on the future success of their students demonstrated by a willingness to engage in debate and challenge students to pursue analysis of highly-difficult issues. Christensen appreciated the morals that SPP promotes, as well as the school’s value for education and all aspects of public policy.

Christensen’s summer internship heavily impacted his experience at SPP. As part of the requirement all students must complete 240 hours of an internship for an institution that contributes something relevant to the world of public policy. He interned at a think tank and quickly learned it was his favorite part of the many different ways in which Pepperdine helps its students to engage with professionals in the field of public policy. The objective of an internship is to help students engage in real-world experiences at an institution related to their area of specialization. “State and Local Government Policy” is one of five policy area specializations that students choose in Pepperdine’s MPP program—every student graduates with at least one specialization as part of our “One Degree / Five Specializations” curriculum.

Working in Public Policy

Christensen’s first job after graduation was working full-time at that same think tank, focusing on state-level fiscal and economic issues. In that position Christensen traveled from state capital to state capital discussing important government reforms that can and or should take place and implements the lessons learned from SPP. Christensen advises those who desire to pursue a career in public policy to not only focus on the national and international levels but to also focus on state and local policy, as there are many important and immediately impactful decisions made at these levels.

Today, Christensen lives and works in Sacramento, serving as chief of staff for Senator John Moorlach (R-Orange County). He observes the importance of state and local policy in California, and how what happens here tends to spread to other states. Christensen was an exceptional student while attending SPP. He expresses his gratitude to the school for their program, and through lessons learned at SPP that continue to be presently exercised in every day decisions. Christensen wholeheartedly recommends SPP to anyone who desires to make an impact in the world of public policy—especially at the state level.