50 for 50 Spotlight: Steven Roberts (JD ’13)

“Pepperdine provided me with firsthand experience in public service as a law student…experiences that were transformative and led me to develop a passion for public service.”

Public service is not what Steven Roberts (JD ’13) does; a public servant is who he is. In 2016, Roberts won a contested primary for the 77th District Missouri House seat. This fall, Roberts was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force. “This commission marks one of the most meaningful accomplishments of my career in public service,” Roberts said. “The Air Force has offered me a unique opportunity to serve my country and I look forward to the challenges and responsibilities of this new role.”

Roberts recently completed Total Force Officer Training at Maxwell Air Force Base in Montgomery, Alabama. He has served as a member of the Missouri Air National Guard since January 2018. “Officer Training School was definitely tough,” Roberts commented. “But anything worth doing is difficult, and this is one of the most worthwhile things I have done.”

And while some would say that law school can be difficult, Roberts describes his experiences at Pepperdine Caruso Law as the highlight of his educational career. “I treasure the memory of the hours I spent contemplating my future on the law library patio,” he noted, “with the vastness of the ocean as a backdrop.”

As a Pepperdine alumnus, Roberts feels a personal responsibility to exemplify integrity, hard work, and the need for balance all in the name of service to others. And Pepperdine, he explains, provided him with firsthand training in public service. As an extern with the LA County District Attorney’s Office in Compton as a certified law clerk, Roberts gained invaluable insight into the practice of criminal Law. He also worked with Pepperdine’s Asylum and Refugee Clinic in Downtown Los Angeles where he helped victims fleeing persecution to obtain asylum in the United States.

In addition, Roberts spent semesters at both the London and Washington, D.C. Pepperdine campuses. He also interned with a New Delhi based nonprofit through the University. This helped Roberts develop a more global perspective coupled with unique insights into how he could mobilize his legal training in exciting and nontraditional ways.

These opportunities were transformative for Roberts, and he views his new role in the U.S. Air Force as an extension of his other work in the public service sector.

Officer training has helped Roberts to grow as a leader, a public servant, and a person. What he learned in his training, he continued, will not only benefit his military service but his work in the state legislature and daily life.

Roberts holds a platform that offers him a powerful voice to advocate for veterans and their families. When asked about the role Pepperdine should play for its veteran community, Roberts suggests increased scholarships and opportunities for veterans to attend law school and assistance in obtaining legal representation when needed.

Whether it’s as a prosecutor working on the front lines for criminal justice reform, as a state representative fighting for social and economic justice, or now as an officer in the Air Force supporting our active duty troops, Roberts is committed to using his skills to serve in any way that he can, adding, “I am grateful for any and all opportunities to be of service to the people of Missouri and our country.”

In addition to his work as a state representative and in the Air National Guard, Roberts is a candidate for the Missouri Senate, 5th District of St. Louis, in the August 2020 election.