Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Student Profiles

Derek Finn

Derek Finn

Life beyond Reed

Derek is originally from Ireland, now living in the lovely Sellwood neighborhood of Portland. He works as an engineering manager in the Research and Development department of a high tech semiconductor company. His profession is demanding and the business is volatile; Reed offers a safe haven from the high tech roller coaster. His other safe haven is his family which leaves little else between school and work other than a minor obsession with the Portland Trailblazers NBA team.

Academic interests

Derek has a graduate degree in electrical engineering but has always been an avid reader of history, religion, politics, philosophy, and literature. He has dabbled in creative writing and even had a blog for a few years describing his expatriate life. In his home country he was exposed to a grand commingling of various cultural, historical, and religious forces and has always relished the idea of pulling back the curtain and understanding more broadly the sources of these movements but also their practical impact on ordinary people. He comes from a working class family and his world view will always be colored by his formative years growing up on a council estate in small town Ireland.


“My work in high technology is professionally rewarding but also intellectually one-dimensional. I was hungry for a deeper engagement with the broader world of ideas and a guiding structure within which to do so. Participating in the MALS program has given me just this structure and it has done so in a supportive community of like-minded individuals, one where we engage in the free exchange of ideas and constructive argument for its own sake. In my time at Reed I have experienced personal growth and significant scholarly development and this is due in no small part to the academic excellence and attentiveness of the teaching staff, the dynamic dialectic of the class conference, and the diversity of course work."