Celebrating 50 Years of GO-MAP

David Mendez, College of Education

For David Mendez, being part of GO-MAP means being around people who have similar racial and cultural experiences as himself. Mendez wants to create a similar experience for students in K-12 schools across the U.S. Mendez, who is studying education policy, is passionate about diversifying the teacher workforce, which has historically not been representative of the diversity of students.

From his own experience, Mendez knows it’s the representative, encouraging community that keeps students around, especially in places that have not historically been welcoming of students of color.

“If it wasn’t for GO-MAP, I wouldn’t be here,” Mendez said. “The scholarships and financial help have been immense and I know that’s true for a lot of other students of color… And also, having a community that I can connect with and that I know understands the struggle of being a student at UW, primarily a student of color.”


Kayla Newcomer, School of Social Work

The best part about GO-MAP for Kayla Newcomer is the space it provides to be true to herself. Newcomer, who works as a Graduate Staff Assistant with the GO-MAP team, says there’s nothing like the program in the country, with the mentoring and support provided by staff to creating a place for students to connect and collaborate toward change.

“GO-MAP to me is a community of love and support. It’s important for people who look so different from the majority of students on this campus to be able to come into community with each other and share ideas and beliefs with each other and be valued and respected and heard,” Newcomer said.

This environment is helpful for Newcomer in her studies at UW. Newcomer is a master’s in social work student who is passionate about mental health equity for students of color as well as implementing social-emotional learning and restorative justice practices in schools.

Jordan Drew, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering

Earning a GO-MAP fellowship gave Jordan Drew the confidence to pack up his belongings and move across the country to attend graduate school at UW. Drew is earning a PhD in electrical engineering, where he studies how the human brain processes sound. For Drew, going to graduate school meant an opportunity to pursue his own research interests rather then spending time researching something for someone else.

And while the fellowship helped him feel confident in attending UW, Drew found that once he arrived in Seattle, GO-MAP provided a family away from his family. Some of his fondest memories are relaxing in the GO-MAP office with the staff and his peers.

“It’s a home away from home, a place I can feel comfortable to be myself in a larger place where I’m not always comfortable to be myself.”


Khatsini Simani, Information School

Khatsini Simani will never forget the beginning of last school year, when she attended GO-MAP’s Getting Connected event. There, she saw students of color from across campus attending everything from panel discussions to a huge dance party. Faculty members of color also shared their own experience with the students to provide encouragement and make themselves visible at the beginning of her graduate school journey.

As she began her doctoral studies in the School of Information Science, Simani felt more confident because her first year was funded by GO-MAP, so she had more time to consider what she wanted to research. Right now, she’s passionate about how people learn about money and financial literacy.

“To me, GO-MAP means a place for community and place to connect with students of color, a place where I can go for research and support and encouragement, especially with this being my first year as PhD student,” Simani said.


Lamar Foster, College of Education

Recently, doctoral student Lamar Foster was feeling down, so he reached out to a group of friends to meet up. As he talked with them, he realized that none of these fellow students were in his department or had taken any classes with him. The people he felt closest too – the ones he could turn to if he needed support — were the ones he’d met through GO-MAP.

“They’re some of my closest friends at UW. (They provide) a sense of belonging at UW where there’s not a lot of people who look like me,” Foster said.

Foster is in the College of Education studying educational policy, where he’s interested in social-emotional learning, specifically how it is racialized and how an organization’s leadership impacts the ways social-emotional learning is implemented in schools.

While Foster said the financial support provided by GO-MAP brought him to the UW, it was the community GO-MAP provided when he arrived that supported him along the way.


Nia Costello, Department of Communications

For Nia Costello, GO-MAP is a place where she can take a deep breath between classes, where friends are like her family, where she might fall asleep mid-conversation with someone during the stress of finals week and wake up with a blanket around her shoulders.

The master’s student is studying digital media in the school of Communications, fulfilling a passion for visual communication. She’s also been an intern with GO-MAP, telling the stories of other students in compelling snapshots on the program’s social media feeds.

Costello said she wouldn’t have been able to have attended UW if not for GO-MAP, where a fellowship provided financial security and eased the stress that comes for students wondering how they’ll balance studying and paying for the expenses of each new quarter.

“GO-MAP is my UW experience,” Costello said. “Coming here, I wasn’t sure where I would fit in or find my group but GO-MAP helped me find my best friends, where I fit in and where I belong.”


Santino Camacho, School of Public Health

Santino Camacho attended UW as an undergraduate and decided to come back for graduate school as well. Camacho noticed that the graduate student community was a lot less diverse than his undergraduate experience. But GO-MAP helped Camacho find a supportive home.

“GO-MAP supported me in finding community, especially students that look like me and have the same experience as me,” Camacho said. “And really a place to be away from microaggressions and other things I experience on campus and a place to feel like I’m growing.”

Camacho is earning a master’s in public health, with a focus on studying the health disparities in queer and trans Pacific Islanders in Washington state.


Alvin Bui, Department of History

When Alvin Bui arrived at UW to study east and southeast Asian history, he heard a lot about the importance of connecting with his graduate school cohort. He found that GO-MAP provided him with something bigger: a cohort of students across campus in different PhD, master, and professional programs that was its own community.

“It builds a sort of community that you wouldn’t get if you were only with your cohort in your department,” Bui said.