From the earliest days of the School of Public Policy, the ideas and works of the Founding Fathers have been central to the moral and philosophical training that takes place in the classroom. The stories of gifted men in a time of crisis continue to provide guidance to the men and women who will follow them into national leadership. Such grounding prepares SPP graduates for careers as leaders and seeks also to strengthen the institutions that lie between the federal government and the individual, including the family.
Outside the classroom, there has also been an expectation among SPP students of a spirit that goes beyond mutually respectful collegiality and approaches the idea of an extended family—students wanting the best for each other, encouraging achievement academically and professionally.
While a student, John Machado (SPP '00) was selected—as several SPP students have been—for the prestigious and coveted Presidential Management Fellows program in Washington, D.C. John fit a certain mold: smart, hard-working, friendly, multilingual, and ambitious. When he left the classroom, though, John broke the mold. At home, he was simply "Dad."
John would ultimately be recruited by the U.S. Department of State as an intelligence analyst with expertise in Russia and the Middle East. In his position at the State Department, John focused on the former Soviet Union. His role was to provide each morning to the secretary of state concise and in-depth country analyses requiring from him a broad knowledge of the economics, religion, and cultural history of places like Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and other parts of the former Soviet Union.
As relevant to his professional life as John's classroom experience was, it is a story about being a father that sums up his Pepperdine experience.
One day while John was a student, he was shopping with his young daughter when misfortune struck. John's daughter slipped from her carrier and fell to the ground, literally cracking her skull. She was rushed to intensive care and John waited for news from the doctors diagnosing his little girl.
During the many tense and tentative hours that followed, John experienced firsthand the love and concern his school family had for him, not as a student but as an individual. Some of his professors prayed with the family in the hospital room. SPP staff and students cooked meals, filling the Machados' freezer full of meals for the week. John's daughter soon recovered, but his view of Pepperdine was forever changed.
When he reminisces about Pepperdine, John is well versed in the roots of the American order, de Tocqueville, economic liberty, and the role of the United States in a post-Cold War world. He is equally articulate about his Pepperdine family who were there in a difficult time of need. Pepperdine's response beyond the classroom may help shape lives of purpose, service, and leadership in ways that study alone could not.
The story of our "first father"—a gifted man in a time of crisis—and his Pepperdine family's response will continue to provide guidance for many years to come.
The School of Public Policy (SPP) celebrated a decade of accomplishments and looked to the future at its 10th anniversary dinner on October 2. Former Florida governor Jeb Bush gave the keynote address. The school, led by dean James Wilburn since its inception in 1997, is built on a curriculum committed to free enterprise, faith, and individual liberty, and has earned a reputation for innovative scholarship and outstanding alumni.
In an attempt to share the true success of the school's first 10 years, Dean Wilburn chose to reflect upon the lives and careers of alumni. Several impressive stories were told during the presentation, but one in particular caught our attention. John Machado's story captures the very essence of what makes Pepperdine a unique university. First, it speaks of a quality student and academic excellence, but it also highlights one of the University's most important qualities--community.
The value Pepperdine places upon community and friendship is never as evident as it is during moments of adversity. The story you are about to read is just one example of how members of the Pepperdine faculty easily move from the professor-student relationship to that of mentor and friend.