Debriefing Distinguished Alum: Andrew Golden

By Taylor Chantry
Staff Writer
As Andrew Golden gleefully stomped on his substitute teacher’s last nerve, he felt a sneeze approaching. The substitute had taken enough from Golden, and exiled him from her classroom and into the Dean’s office. The punishment: suspension. Returning from suspension, Golden was ordered, not told, to get his act together. That moment was the wake up call he had been needing.
Golden was only a frustrated and furious teenager at the time. Looking back now, it was a science class and a sneeze that changed, and may have even saved Golden’s life forever.PHS_Andrew_Michael_Golden
As a shy sixteen year old with a lacking amount of friends and a growing amount of acne, Golden didn’t seem like he stood a chance in the real world. It was that year when he was placed into Keith Bellof’s physical science class.
“He’s a wonderful teacher. He makes learning like a television show,” Golden said. “He puts on an act, he makes jokes, and he inspired me to take an interest in science.”
Golden went from obtaining a “straight-up F,” to grades that skyrocketed. Suffering from depression at the time, Golden was shy. He was the kind of kid to spend his time alone, not sharing with anyone how he was holding up. He took part in gymnastics because he didn’t belong anywhere else.
Sure, gymnastics helped pass the lonely times, but Golden needed motivation, something to push him. It was a passion, he discovered, a passion he never imagined he would hold.
“I developed a passion for learning all of the sudden,” Golden said.
He went on to pursue this passion in college, majoring in geology. Attending college was an accomplishment, but not enough for Golden. He needed something more, something dangerous.
Risk. Taking a risk turned out to be Golden’s biggest accomplishment. Packing up his bags, saying his goodbyes, and boarding a plane from Illinois, all the way to Los Angeles, had failure written all over it.
Failure, however, didn’t stop Golden as he took his first job getting coffee and moving sets. He branched off from his biggest risk and climbed the ladder to success.
“Failure will always be on your mind,” Golden said. “Jim Carey once said something like, ‘You can fail at something you don’t like, so why not try with something you love?'”
Now working at Nickelodeon on the set of Dora the Explorer and having experience as an FX artist on the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as well as Monsters Vs. Aliens, Golden’s struggling days of high school are in a dusty corner of his mind.
Although Golden may still have work to do in order to be at the top of his game, he has come a long way. He gives thanks for his biggest supporter: his father.
He said he had the best support system around, and wasn’t as stressed out as his peers, who were worried he’d be sleeping on someone’s floor if things didn’t work out.
“Moving out was a really comfortable experience for me. It was just a lot of Subway sandwiches and Judge Judy,” Golden said.
This comfortable environment was provided by Golden’s dad, who let Golden do his own thing. A little distance and faith is what Golden’s father gave, and Golden couldn’t be more thankful.
“He let me play a lot of video games, and that helped me absorb the art,” a Golden said. “He didn’t pressure me, but disciplined me in his own subtle way. He gave me incentives.”
These incentives gave Golden the push he needed to achieve his successes.
Ten years since graduating Prospect, Golden has never felt so fortunate. He has lots of advice for young teenagers striving to become something, but one piece of advice stands above the rest.
“Just do it. Actually convince yourself that this is what you want to do,” Golden said. “You can convince yourself of an idea, and that can be so powerful. You send a signal out to the universe when you tell others about your passion. Those people will lift you up.”
Twelve years ago, Golden received a wake up call from his counselor, and he got his act together. For those who are struggling, maybe Golden is your wake up call.