Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Student Profiles

Libby O'Neil

Libby O'Neil

Life beyond Reed

Libby graduated from the University of Kansas with a B.S. in Aerospace Engineering. She worked in the aviation electronics field in Kansas City before moving to Portland to pursue further studies at Reed. Outside of school, she enjoys hiking, yoga, writing music, and buying too many books. Her two cats, Ani and Obi, do their best to keep her company during the long hours of study. She especially loves the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest – after a lifetime spent in the Midwest, she takes every chance she gets to explore nature in and around Portland.

Academic interests

Libby's academic interests center on the intersections of gender, race, and technology during times of social change. After years in a male-dominated industry driven by military funding, she is eager to explore from the outside how gendered systems of power interact with new technologies to create new social realities. In her MALS classes she has explored these topics through history, anthropology, and political theory. Her classes have led to projects on the politics of gender in early abolition movements, the effects of war and corporate humanitarianism on women in modern Iraq, and the function of the nuclear family in Marxist and Freudian thought. Libby graduated in spring, 2019.


“When I finished my undergraduate studies in engineering, I felt strongly as if my intellectual passions were unfulfilled. Engineering was challenging, but I felt the topics studied were disconnected from human experience. Although I knew I needed to learn more, I wasn’t ready to narrow my options down to one field. I chose the MALS program at Reed College to challenge myself and open my mind up to areas of inquiry that I had not yet explored—Reed gives me the chance to rigorously study topics that truly excite me, to talk about problems that matter.  Reed’s interdisciplinary program allows me to supplement the limited scope of my undergraduate studies, improve my writing, and prepare myself for further graduate studies after Reed."