Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Student Profiles

Petra Fortes-Schramm

Petra Fortes-Schramm

Life beyond Reed

With a background in music, art, and community activism, Petra seeks out collaborations with other artists and socially conscious individuals to work toward a trans-disciplinary, intersectional endeavor. When not laughing at cat videos or making absurd gifs, Petra can be found sharing in the domestic banalities that ensure she and her wife survive graduate school. After the two complete the MALS program and medical school, respectively, Petra plans to work cooperatively with her wife to provide the Salinas Valley in California with affordable health care, access to the arts, and opportunities for alternative and higher education. Petra graduated in May 2015. Her thesis was on a mid-century Portland community organizer and activist, William H. McClendon.

Academic interests

While working on an undergraduate degree in intermedia, Petra was primarily interested in identity politics. Since beginning the MALS program, Petra’s interests in identity remain and include an ever expanding fascination with historical and political contexts of identities. The oft-replicated narrative of the progressive nature and liberal-mindedness of Portland allow Petra to academically and artistically investigate how romanticized historical narratives might serve specific, though unstated, purposes and result in unintended consequences.


“The interdisciplinary nature of the MALS program is what initially drew me Reed. The program allows me to work through my intellectual and artistic interests in new and challenging configurations. More importantly, the MALS program offers me a sense of freedom and of choice in my academic career—I am not limited to one discipline. Instead, I am offered a wide array of courses, and a diverse cohort with which to commune and from which to draw support.”