By Lorraine Jabine – Staffwriter

Editorial Columnist for the UMF Flyer and senior

Photo of: Hayden Golden at Relay for Life, Photo courtesy: Hayden Golden

Photo of: Hayden Golden at Relay for Life
Photo courtesy: Hayden Golden

Hayden Golden, plans to pursue a higher education at The University of Southern Maine’s (USM) master program in social work after graduating this spring.

Golden’s from the Greater Portland area and has enlisted at USM’s Portland campus on Falmouth Street. The social work program at the university is a two-year program, “You can enroll into the program as a part time or full time student; however, I’ve opted to attend part time for my first semester so I can work,” said Golden.

Golden plans to live at home for at least his first semester at USM because of the expense of living in and around Portland. “I had planned to save money by working and putting that towards living on my own during and after graduate school,” he said.

Although Golden applied to two graduate schools, USM ultimately proved to be the most beneficial choice, “To be quite honest, I chose USM because I like the generalist nature of its MSW [Master Social Work] program, and wasn’t confident that I wanted to do Social Work, but I felt that a program that wasn’t too focused would give me room to breathe and figure out what it is that I wanted to do within that field,” Golden said, “Most people go to a graduate program because it’s focus is in the area they are interested in themselves  —I’m just the opposite.”

Location was another aspect in Golden’s decision to attend USM. “Well I love Portland’s hipster cred, it was recently rated Number 5 on a list of hipster cities,” said Golden, grinning in his Birkenstocks and flannel, “But in all seriousness, I love that I can travel easily, have access to organic and local food, as well as the intellectual environment that comes with Portland and I can take the ferry out to the Casco Bay Islands on those oppressive August days.”

Always having another plan in place is Golden’s philosophy when making decisions. “I’m still applying to jobs at private schools and my undergraduate degrees have prepared me well for a job like that and I would eventually like to teach,” said Golden, “Well I’m committed to USM and admire its program, if the opportunity arose to take a job somewhere else, I would because I’m passionate about learning and can do it anywhere especially if that job fit my humanity and morality.”

“I plan to work after graduate school, perhaps in Latin America or even someplace in rural North America where there is a huge need for social workers,” said Golden passionately, “After a time, I would eventually like to get my doctorate.”

However, the more Golden reads from Ph.D’s and graduate students the more he realizes that he couldn’t commit a decade of his life to reading, writing, and being broke. “I want to read all of the books that I never got a chance to, you know the ones professors mention and you write down with every intention of reading,” said Golden, “Well a Ph.D program wouldn’t allow me to do that—I would be a Teaching Assistant or a Research Assistant, taking classes, presenting at conferences, doing committee work, and might not get a job at the end,” laughed Golden.

“The system of higher education is, to be frank, really screwed up right now and I’m not ready to join the ranks of Social Science Ph.D. candidates still writing their dissertations after a decade and not even close to a tenure-track position,” said Golden firmly.

Farmington has made a lasting impression on Golden as he embarks on another journey, “I will miss the professors and staff, especially: Brian Ufford, Sabine Klein, Michael Johnson, and Gaelyn Aguilar. They don’t know how much they’ve changed my life,” he said as he reminisced on all of the teachers that have influenced his time here at UMF, “I’ll miss Soup for You and Wicked Gelato as well—what a drag it will be to have to drive places to get good food!”

As Golden’s senior year winds down at UMF and graduation approaches he said he feels ready to stay focused and take a summer course, which starts May 12, the day after graduation, “I think I’m mentally and academically prepared to take on the challenges of graduate school.” This summer, Golden plans to climb Katahdin and hike the parts of the International Appalachian Trail, extending into Canada.