Mainers decide whether to stay in state
Maine natives Andrew McDonough-Lee ‘12, Geoff Bell ‘12 and Sam Deeran ‘12 say that there is something special about their home state that will make it hard to leave after graduation. But maybe, they won’t have to .
As they prepare to graduate from the College this spring, many seniors are scrambling to figure out their futures. Approximately 10 percent of the Class of 2012 hails from Maine, and these natives face an additional challenge during this decision-making process: choosing whether or not to leave their home state.
Among Mainers, there is a broad range of post-graduation strategies. On one end are students like Jamie Curley ’12, a Topsham native who never intended to remain in Maine, even for college. “I wanted to go somewhere really far away, like California,” she said. “But I ended up loving Colby, so that’s why I stayed.” Curley, a global studies major with a double minor in German and religion, is in the process of applying to graduate school in the Boston area. “Especially after studying abroad in a city [in Austria], I don’t want to just come back and live in Maine after grad school,” Curley said. “There really aren’t that many opportunities [in my career field] in Maine.”
Jordan Cadorette ’12 of Biddeford represents seniors on the complete opposite end of the spectrum. “I was always planning to stay here. That was my goal because all of my family lives in Maine,” he said. Recently, Cadorette was offered a full-time position as an actuary with a disability insurance company in Portland. "It’s convenient that I’ll be working close to home,” he said. While Cadorette does not plan to live with his parents for long, he hopes to stay at least until he can “pay back some of [his] bills.”
Then there are the native Maine students who fall somewhere in between these two extremes. Veronica Foster ’12, an English major with a concentration in creative writing and a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies, knows that she will have to leave Maine in order to attend graduate school for a degree in rhetoric and composition. “Although I’ll probably leave for school, I love Maine,” Foster said. “I definitely see myself coming back here.”
Similarly, Andrew McDonough-Lee ’12 would like to remain close to his Kittery roots, but jobs in his career field are limited in Maine. As a physics major, “I’d like to work at either an observatory or lab that specializes in astrophysics,” McDonough-Lee said. These positions are widely available in the southwestern United States or in countries like Chile because of these areas’ geographic locations and topographies. “I would like to stay in Maine out of my love for the region,” McDonough-Lee explained, “but career-wise, that might not be very likely.”
Still other students who have grown up in Maine are curious about what the world has to offer beyond the state’s borders. Falmouth native Sam Deeran ’12 has been exploring career options both around the country and across the globe. As an English and American studies double major, Deeran has been looking into travel writing jobs abroad.
“Or I might try working for a Triple-A baseball league like the New Orleans Zephyrs doing media relations work,” Deeran said. “Or I might uproot to a fun city like New Orleans or Seattle or the Twin Cities.” Deeran is keeping his options open, but he said there is a chance he will remain in Maine right after college, particularly if he pursues a career as a teacher for private schools.
Regardless of his immediate plans, Deeran said he hopes to raise a family in Maine because of his own positive experience as a child. “Maine has its own value system that I think is really unique,” he said.
Geoff Bell ’12 from Yarmouth has adopted a more easygoing approach to his life after college. Although he—like many students—is unsure what lies ahead after Colby, Bell said he doesn’t “really feel a hurry to leave Maine...and get on any career path.” Bell has established various connections within the state that could lead to work after graduation, such as an outstanding offer from Saddleback Mountain to become a full-time ski patroller during the winter season.
“Maine has a lot of great options that wouldn’t really progress my eventual career, but it also has some options that don’t seem to be a waste of time while I figure out what I want to do,” Bell said. “And that’s the real problem. Any career-oriented college grad leaves Maine because it’s a pretty hard place to start a career.”
As many of these seniors suggested, a lot of pride comes with being a Maine native who attends a college in Maine. “We view each other as a separate tribe, almost, in a very subtle way,” McDonough-Lee said. As a result, many Mainers seem to be drawn to each other after arriving on the Hill. McDonough-Lee, Deeran and Bell are very close friends. “I have a high ratio of Maine friends,” McDonough-Lee said. “It’s something we can immediately relate to. We’re part of a minority once we get to Colby, so we feel like we have to represent it.”
Deeran and Bell even have discussed staying in Maine together after they graduate this spring. “We’re thinking about rebuilding my parents’ cabin near Saddleback,” Deeran said. “We’d rebuild it and live there and be ski bums for a couple of years.”
“There’s that stereotype about people from Maine taking it a little slower, and I like to think we play that up,” Bell said. “But that’s what Mainers do,” Deeran interrupted. “We keep it real.”