Paige McHatten: Outstanding Graduating Student

Paige McHatten of Mapleton, Maine, is the Outstanding Graduating Student in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She is an English and journalism double major with a minor in media studies and a concentration in creative writing. While at the University of Maine, she was a McGillicuddy Humanities Center Undergraduate Fellow, completing a collection of poetry titled “GOODNESS,” which revolves around relationships between women. She has also served as a tutor in the Writing Center; a journalism intern for UMaine’s radio station, WMEB 91.9 FM; and as editor of the university’s undergraduate literary magazine, The Open Field. After graduating, she will pursue a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. She hopes to publish a full-length collection of fiction and poetry while continuing to develop her skills as a writer, teacher and learner. 

Why did you choose to come to UMaine?
After graduating high school in 2020, I knew that my first year of college, and potentially the years after, would be drastically affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. As someone from Maine, I felt the need to maintain a sense of security when there didn’t seem to be any. UMaine provided that security, and so much more. In addition to meeting a core group of friends that would make up the foundation of my support system here, I also found confidence through my English courses, leading me to declare a major that revolves tightly around my passion of writing. 

How would you describe the academic atmosphere at UMaine?
When talking to friends and family beyond the UMaine community about my academic experience here, I have continuously said that students get out what they put in. During my time here, faculty have been supportive, understanding and willing to meet me halfway if I am ever struggling on any assignment. On the other hand, when professors see that I am particularly interested in a certain subject, they have led me toward enrichment opportunities that directly inform my academic pursuits.

Describe any research, internships or scholarly pursuits in which you have participated. How have they prepared you for future opportunities in your chosen field?
In ENG 307: Writing Fiction, I wrote most of my short stories about female friendships. My professor, Dr. Hollie Adams, took note of this recurring theme, and encouraged me to apply for the McGillicuddy Humanities Center undergraduate fellowship. I wrote a proposal for my project: a collection of creative writing that would revolve around relationships between women, revealing their rich nuances and complexities that are often simplified or completely overlooked in media. To prepare for this project, I completed research by reading the work of prominent scholars and authors who work directly in women’s, gender and sexuality studies. At the end of this fellowship, I presented my project to the public and published a collection of poetry with Bottlecap Press titled “GOODNESS.” This experience uniquely prepared me for nearly every career field I can envision myself entering. My knowledge of the publishing industry grew through my process of publishing my own work, and my research skills were strengthened. 

In addition to completing a fellowship for the McGillicuddy Humanities Center, I’ve served as a journalism intern for the University of Maine’s radio station, WMEB 91.9 FM. In this position, I host a radio show called “Forget-Me-Not,” where I play music by up-and-coming, underground/avant-garde, and/or local artists. I also report on local events and happenings that relate to the arts. This past semester, I began co-hosting a show with my colleague, Jess Cleary-Reuning, called “Spoiler Alert,” where we read works by prominent female authors, and deliberate on our findings on air. This experience at the radio station has allowed me to use my skills as a journalist in a hands-on, tactical way, while also informing what I may want to do with my degree down the line. 

I also have served as a Writing Center tutor and embedded tutor in ENG 101. Through this position, I have discovered that my primary passion in academia is working with other intellectuals. I have been able to help students with a range of projects: from their ENG 101 portfolios to their masters theses. 

Finally, I have served as the editor of the University of Maine’s undergraduate literary magazine, “The Open Field,” for the past three years. In this position, I have promoted the magazine to our campus community, reviewed submissions in poetry, fiction, nonfiction and visual art, overseen design and production of the magazine, requested funding from University of Maine organizations, department chairs and other stakeholders, and organized the magazine’s launch party each spring. Through this editorship, I have been able to envision myself working in the publishing industry.

Beyond academics, what extracurricular activities have occupied your time?
I am a member of the women’s club soccer team, and have served as their fundraising coordinator. I also served as the senior editor and campus coordinator of UMaine’s chapter of “Her Campus,” a national online magazine with a focus towards collegiate women. 

Have you worked closely with a mentor, professor or role model who made your time at UMaine better, and if so, how?
Dr. Hollie Adams has served as my academic advisor, professor and mentor throughout my four years at the University of Maine. She encouraged me to apply for the McGillicuddy Humanities Center fellowship, which has served as one of my biggest academic achievements during my time at UMaine. Not only that, she has helped edit my two chapbooks, and encouraged me to send them out for publication. Sharing your writing is a vulnerable, scary process, but Hollie encouraged me to open my mind to possibility, rather than stay rooted in fear. This encouragement has stemmed beyond my undergraduate career: Hollie has helped me apply to graduate programs and has been my go-to with questions and concerns about the process (which is incredibly daunting, but equally exciting). 

Beyond encouraging me to pursue these enrichment opportunities, Hollie has been a source of guidance, support and joy throughout my time at UMaine. She responds to emails at all hours, even over her breaks, and answers silly questions with honesty, kindness and patience. She has inspired me in countless ways, and I consider myself lucky to have her as a mentor. 

Did you have an experience at UMaine that shaped or changed how you see the world?
When enrolled in ENG 271: The Act of Interpretation with Dr. Steven Evans, I was exposed to scholarship that not only expanded my notion of the world, but affirmed my own identity. In particular, Adrienne Rich’s “Compulsory Heterosexuality and Lesbian Existence” opened my mind to how young women are conditioned to believe that heterosexual love, marriage and domesticity are their destinies, of which competition with women is an inherent symptom. With the guidance of Dr. Evans, this course and its readings gave me permission to dismantle my belief systems, and discover that my destiny is whatever I want it to be. 

Describe UMaine in one word and explain.
Home. Need I say more? At UMaine, I have found a lifelong community of like-minded people who genuinely want what is best for me. Not only that, I have been able to discover parts of my identity that, before coming to UMaine, had been hidden in the depths of myself. At UMaine, I was encouraged to explore those depths, and upon graduating, I can recognize the incredible growth that has taken place as a result. 

What are your plans for after you graduate?
After applying to a variety of graduate programs, I will be obtaining my MFA in creative writing. After receiving my degree, I hope to publish a full-length collection of fiction and poetry, and continue to develop my skills as a writer, teacher and learner. 

Contact: Shelby Hartin,