In celebration of our 65th anniversary, we are highlighting Ohio University Lancaster alumni and students on our website and social media pages.
Megan Golden, LISW, CDCA graduated from OHIO Lancaster’s social work program in 2017. She called her experience on the Lancaster campus “magical” and that the level of education, support, and resources far exceeded her expectations.
“I was blessed to have several classed with Michael Ashton, Kelly Vacca, Lisa Skeens, and Pam Kaylor, all of which invested constantly into my success as a student and as a future leader in the community.” Golden said.
Golden currently works for New Horizons Mental Health Agency where she serves as their Crisis and Jail Program Coordinator and Site Supervisor.
Why did you choose Ohio University Lancaster to pursue your degree?
I actually moved to Lancaster because I ran the FedEx Office in town. During my time at the center, I met several students who came in to print, bind, or just work on school projects. Each of them appeared to be so happy with the education they were receiving, in fact, if I inquired about their project, they would immediately start talking to me about everything from the project, to the class, to the professor, to the campus. When my center closed, I decided to make a shift and change careers. It is also a great campus for non-traditional students. I was 34 when I began this journey and always felt welcome and included.
What made you decide you wanted a career in social work?
My background is military and business. I always wanted to do something that helps people and makes a difference, while also getting to know and contribute to the community in which I live. When I first started at OHIO Lancaster, before I declared my major, I took several classes taught by Michael Ashton. Any doubt I had that I was on the right path disappeared day one of class. Through his teaching, experience, and passion for the field, I was hooked. I then began taking classes with Pam Kaylor, Lisa Skeens and Kelly Vacca. It is impossible to not catch their 'fire' for the field. They clearly believe in everything they are teaching which resonates with their students.
How did Ohio University Lancaster prepare you for your career?
The professors I mentioned above were also super supportive and encouraged students to make their own path. They allowed me to start projects, participate in community events, meet key players, and follow any direction I chose. I did my practicums at the Lighthouse with an amazing Clinical Director who taught me so much , I got affiliated with them due to Pam being on their board. I will always be grateful for her connection and that experience.
From The Lighthouse, I came to New Horizons, which was a huge decision for me as I loved the Lighthouse. Michael Ashton had previously been the Clinical Director at New Horizons and Kelly Vacca has a really good handle on my skill set and personality type, so I reached out to both of them to assist me in making the decision. They did not hesitate at all to meet me for dinner and have a transparent conversation about the agency change, positives and negatives. I have been with New Horizons for almost three years and have not regretted the decision at all.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
- I have one of the most capable, dedicated teams in the county. We are always consulting and learning from one another.
- I get to work in a variety of situations with a diverse population of clients. We see them at their most vulnerable and hopefully have a positive impact on their lives.
- I am fortunate enough to have a unique program which allows for me to be in the Community, at events, speaking, or learning. I have met so many people in the community that do wonderful things for the betterment of everyone involved.
- I also have had Ohio University interns for the past year and a half, who are a positive joy to work with.
- Ashton was right. I do get to spread my wings and work on new initiatives. Our Executive Director is supportive, ambitious and believes in the work we do. We are hiring for tons of positions that can be found on LinkedIn.
Do you have a favorite moment(s) or memory of your time on campus you can share with us?
- Field trip to the State House with Lisa Skeens during my undergrad.
- A Night to Shine with Kelly Vacca. We even got tiaras!
- Take Back the Night with Pam Kaylor, which I am still involved with
- Celebrate Women with Pam Kaylor
- My cohort also started the Student Social Work Association on Campus, I was the President. We participated in as many campus events as possible.
- Every day was a complete joy. I don't think I ever missed more than a handful of classes during my time there.
What advice would you give to students pursuing their degree in social work?
- Go to Ohio University Lancaster! Start there, no matter your age, background, skill set, confidence, just do it. If Social Work turns out to not be a match, the professors and advisors will assist in finding something that is.
- Get involved in everything you can. Networking is one of the most important aspects of Social Work. You will be introduced to important people, work on important causes, learn to advocate, learn to publicly speak, learn to believe in yourself and the work you are doing.
- Ohio University's Social Work department in unmatched as far as I'm concerned. I can always tell when I'm in the community and run into or work with an alum by the quality of their work and the way they are so passionate.
To learn more about our social work program, please visit the social work program page.