August Alumni Blog
Mallory SoRelle graduated from Vanguard in 2002. She envisioned herself attending law school and then pursuing a career that combined law and politics, perhaps by working to draft legislation for a government agency or a member of Congress.
SoRelle graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors from Smith College in 2006 with a degree in Government and Sociology. She served as Smith’s fellow to the Center for the Study of the Presidency her senior year. SoRelle’s plans were on track, but as new opportunities emerged her goals began to shift.
After graduating, SoRelle wanted to obtain real work experience before going to law school. Hired as the research assistant for the National Consumer Law Center, a legal and policy nonprofit in Boston that works on low-income economic justice issues, she quickly learned that she enjoyed the policy research aspects of her job more than the legal work.
During this time, SoRelle had also been accepted as a contributor for PoliticalWire.com during the 2008 presidential campaign and loved being immersed in politics. So, she decided to forgo law school and pursue a degree in public policy instead. In 2010, SoRelle earned her Master of Public Policy from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. While at Harvard, she gained practical experience by working on several political campaigns and helping run workshops to train aspiring candidates and staff to run for office.
By this time, SoRelle knew she wanted a career that would give her a chance to make a real difference in people’s lives, and also wanted it to include three things about which she was passionate: politics, research, and teaching. Academia was an obvious fit. SoRelle obtained her PhD in American politics and policy from Cornell University. She recently finished her first year as an assistant professor in the Department of Government and Law at Lafayette College, a rigorous liberal arts college in Pennsylvania. She enjoys helping students build the knowledge and skills necessary to understand, question, and thoughtfully participate in the political system.
Outside of the classroom, SoRelle studies and writes about policies that affect people’s lives. Her goal is to conduct research that can inform both policymakers and ordinary citizens about important political problems. For example, she recently published an article in the Washington Post about how policymakers from both political parties approach the issue of states’ rights.
She is currently working on a book motivated by the financial crisis that explores the negative economic and political consequences of the current approach to consumer credit policymaking. This project was just awarded the 2017 prize for the best dissertation completed in the field of American government during the previous two years by the American Political Science Association.
SoRelle’s experience at Vanguard, both in and out of the classroom, served her well in all of her pursuits. She cites the freedom Vanguard teachers had to engage their students in intellectually creative work during her tenure at Vanguard – like Mrs. Spain’s poetry notebook, Mrs. Johns’ tessellation, Mrs. Richie’s pre-cal animal cracker survival contest, and Mrs. Marshall’s Mole Day challenges – and the myriad chances to try new activities – like Mock Trial with Mrs. Leslie and Challenge Team with Mrs. Davis – as crucial to instilling in her the confidence in college and beyond to take risks and put herself out there for opportunities as they came along.
The demanding nature of the coursework at Vanguard gave her the tools to be successful when taking on these new challenges, and also taught her how to stay motivated and overcome occasional failures. The best advice she has for students – “take full advantage of the opportunities Vanguard gives you to explore new passions and to build your intellectual toolkit so you can confidently and successfully tackle whatever you chose to do next.”