Deren FinksEducational Counselor
Deren is so deeply experienced as a college admission expert that you might for a moment overlook his wonderfully warm and positive personality. Then it hits you and you are immediately drawn into the magnetic field where students are validated and motivated in the search process! Deren excelled at and loved his long tenure working at the college level of admissions. Now at this point in his career, Deren is enjoying the relational, direct work with students in both school and college planning. He has that rare balance of understanding both the admission process and the student from the inside and out. Deren’s broad and deep experience in both colleges and independent schools has made him a perfect counselor for our domestic students from all over the U.S. and our international students looking to come to boarding school or college in the U.S. Having worked with countless numbers of STEM, liberal arts, business or pre-professional candidates in the college search, Deren also has expertise in the arts and in athletic recruiting for the college-bound athlete.
Deren began his career in college admissions as Assistant Director of Admissions at La Verne University in La Verne, California. He then went on to Harvey Mudd College, a member of The Claremont Colleges in Claremont, California, where he held the positions of Assistant Dean, Associate Dean, Director of Admissions and ultimately Vice President and Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid. Upon his departure from Harvey Mudd after nearly 20 years, he was awarded The Henry T. Mudd Award for exemplary service and the lifelong title of Vice President, Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid, an honor rarely awarded to administrators. Deren prides himself on the relationships he built during his long college admissions tenure with post-secondary institutions around the country, from community colleges to competitive universities.
A lifelong learner looking for a more direct connection to students, Deren was excited to make the shift to directing college counseling offices at the school level. He served as the Dean of College Counseling at Cranbrook Schools in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan and as Director of College Counseling at The Kiskiminetas (or Kiski) School in Saltsburg, Pennsylvania. Deren found the boarding school experience provided intrinsic opportunities to get to know the whole student, allowing him to better guide students in the search and admission process. It follows that he was drawn to McMillan Education, where courageously advocating for the whole student is the first of our core values. Deren’s boarding school experience also made him a disciple of the transformative powers of boarding schools and enthusiastic about applying his deep knowledge of admission to the search process for his boarding school planning students.
Recognized for his many professional accomplishments, Deren has held numerous advisory positions with The College Board and The National Association of College Admission Counselors and been a sought-after speaker over the years at professional conferences. Deren is a passionate advocate for under-resourced students and has devoted a great deal of community service time to helping this population access post-secondary education.
A native of Southern California, Deren attended The University of LaVerne, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. He began his work in education as a 3rd and 5th grade teacher, where he was initially exposed to the critical importance of all aspects of human development and from which he took his commitment to helping students discover their unique best fit educational choices.
When Deren isn’t working, he loves to use his classical training in bass and baritone voice, though he insists he sings badly! He is currently expanding his love of music by learning to play the cello. Deren is also an amazing cook and loves cooking for large groups, something he learned growing up in a big family. Whatever Deren is doing, his two gorgeous Marremano-Abruzzese Sheepdogs, Wadsworth and Gibson, are his constant companions. They seem to know how stunning they are and somehow have gotten the idea that they are descendents of royal Italian lineage when they are actually rescue pups, another passion of Deren’s. Despite all of Deren’s amazing accomplishments in the field of college admissions, he has not been able to get Wadsworth or Gibson into college!