Derek Fairburn | Distinguished Undergraduate Scholar; Windgate Charitable Foundation Endowed Studio Arts Scholarship

Derek FairburnMajor: Dual Degree – BA in Economics (A&S Quantitative Track) and Art; BS in Mathematics (Applied Track) 
Minor: Blount Scholars Program, Biology, Chemistry

Hometown: Germantown, Wisconsin

Greatest success on campus: My greatest success on campus has been my pursuit of several different academic disciplines while maintaining success in each. As a triple major in economics, math, and art, and a triple minor in chemistry, biology, and the Blount Scholars Program, I have enjoyed the variety that each school day provides. I can start my day working away at a painting project and end it in the chemistry lab, or working through proofs in math class, or discussing the intricacies of some influential sociological theory in Blount. This variety is what has kept me engaged and successful in each pursuit. As an undergraduate, I have won the Windgate Charitable Foundation Endowed Studio Arts Scholarship twice, as well as being recognized as an Outstanding Organic Chemistry Student. Despite the fact that my professional goals and experience lie heavily in the fields of finance, economics, and law, the fact that I have been recognized for my work in these separate fields in the fine arts and STEM has been a great validation of my commitment to maintaining a well-rounded approach to my undergraduate education.

Favorite professor: My favorite professor was Sarah Marshall in the Department of Art and Art History. I had Professor Marshall for two printmaking courses, and always felt that not only did she have her own incredible talent and passion for printmaking, but also a genuine commitment to inspiring this passion in her students. Professor Marshall was always willing to go above and beyond to help her students develop their creative vision into a finished product, even if it meant extra work on her part. A particularly impactful example of this occurred this spring. Although I was no longer a student in one of Professor Marshall’s courses, I came to her seeking help with my goal to apply a screen-printing process to my work in painting (where the majority of my studio art degree has been focused). Professor Marshall went above and beyond to teach me the proper process for screen printing on a canvas, as well as providing me the proper equipment for doing so. Overall, I think Professor Marshall represents the best that academia has to offer in terms of taking a genuine interest in imparting her expertise on the next generation of printmakers.

Future Plans: My long-term plan is to work in intellectual property law in the life sciences / pharmaceutical industry. Having interned as an Investment Banking Summer Analyst covering the health care industry, I became immersed in how pharmaceutical companies bring new drug products to market and discovered some issues in these processes that can hurt the general public. As part of my capstone project for the Blount Scholars Program, I am investigating the cost of one such problem involving the delay of entry of generic drugs into the market and the antitrust concerns this creates, and I want to dedicate my legal career to addressing issues such as this. To this end, I have accepted enrollment at Harvard Law School through their Junior Deferral Program. Immediately after graduation, I will be working in New York as an Equity Analyst at Millennium Management, a multi-strategy hedge fund, where I hope to gain an expertise on how companies in all industries, but especially health care, respond to different market forces and government interventions. After a number of years, when I feel I have made an impactful contribution at Millennium and am satisfied with what I have learned, I will matriculate to Harvard Law School and transition from the finance industry to the practice of law.