Majoring in Happiness

With help from University College, freshman Eleanor Hayden is finding her way

Get to know our students, and you’ll know what UMKC is all about.

Eleanor Hayden ’20
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science
School: College of Arts and Sciences
Hometown: Lee’s Summit, a suburb east of UMKC

When you started in the fall, you didn’t know what degree path you wanted to pursue. Tell us about that experience.

I tell people all the time I’m majoring in being happy. That sums it all up. I feel like if I’m happy, it covers everything. I have a lot of different interests and by going through University College, I helped define what I really want with professors who truly get to know and care for you.

At University College, there are professors from every area at UMKC and they meet with you once a week in your particular interests. For example, mine is Human Expression with Dr. Rydberg-Cox. He knows me and during large lectures he can call on me by name.

Ultimately, you chose Political Science.

I declared it Nov. 9, 2016, the day after the presidential election. I want to make a difference. If everything goes smoothly, I want to be a senator. Law school next. Without University College, I would not have been able to make this decision so confidently.

Why did you choose UMKC?

UMKC was not my first choice. I only live about 30 minutes away, so it always seemed like a small school to me. But finally, I looked deeper into it, and my mom, my aunt and my grandmother all graduated from here. And they wouldn’t have chosen it if there wasn’t a good reason. When I went on a campus tour, I just felt at home. I was inspired by how it had so many great programs and institutions: the Conservatory, six-year med school and the brand-new Bloch building.

What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?

Try everything, because you will never get a chance like college to just go for it all. Take classes for the hell of it and that might even end up benefiting you. It may even change your major or minor. UMKC inspired me to pick a minor in Latina/Latino Studies. It has opened my eyes to a world I had no idea about until now.

What excites you?

Reading a book and finding metaphors that are so much bigger than what they seem. For example, Seamus Heaney has a poem called “The Skunk” which seems like he’s just comparing his wife to a skunk. But if you look closer, you see hints of voyeurism and it’s so much bigger than that! Talking about how race isn’t biological in my Latino/Latina studies class – I love that!


From across the country and around the world, our students come together in Kansas City to study business, medicine, theatre and more than 100 other academic areas. Roos become leaders in their fields and give back to their communities.

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