Goodson Vue: Fostering Academic
to my prioritization of student organizations, student activism and too much of the college social life, I did not maintain the necessary grade point average to be
eligible to apply into the College of Business. It was a difficult time for me and I was stuck in a moment where I did not know what I was going to do with my life. After
a semester of trying to figure out life on my own and taking responsibility for my poor performance, I finally reached out to the support staff in the office of Academic
Support Services, currently known as Multicultural Affairs and Student Success. Without hesitation they welcomed me into their family and provided me with
guidance and academic support that helped me retake control of my academic career. Prior to this moment, I avoided all communication attempts from the staff and
did not attend any of their workshops for two years. I wanted to “do college” on my own.  My involvement with the program provided and challenged me to pursue
opportunities I never thought about such as the Ronald E. McNair Scholars Program, undergraduate research, study abroad and internships.

The support, experiences and mentors I gained from Academic Support Services confirmed my interest of supporting students of color in higher education.   
From growing up in the Fox River Valley area of Wisconsin to planting his roots in Madison, Goodson Vue has taken his life
experiences to heart and is now creating pathways for students of color and low-income students.  As a college student, Goodson
met that proverbial fork in the road we all reach having to make tough choices about which direction we envision taking. But
because of the strong support he received from the multicultural student services program at the University of Wisconsin-
Whitewater, he was able to get his priorities in order and earn his degree. Today, Goodson is a part of the Precollege Enrichment
Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the renowned program which is
designed to move first generation learners from primary school into successful college graduates. It was that experience in
college that now has him paying it forward to ensure that other students like him have every opportunity and the tools to graduate
from college. His work doesn't end there. He is involved with some dynamic work being promoted by the Hmong Education
Council, among other things. Find out more about how Goodson is making an impact in this month's YP Spotlight.     
Q:  If you are not native to Madison, tell me how you got here.  What's your personal story?
A: I grew up in Kaukauna, WI, a small city in northeast Wisconsin. I am the youngest of thirteen siblings and the only one born in the
United States. In my graduating high school class of 320 students, six of us were Hmong. Hmong students (15-20) were the only
students of color in the entire school during that time and there were about eight to ten Hmong families in the city. I don’t know
what it is like today.

Q: Where did you attend college?  How was your experience?  
A: After high school, I attended the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater with the intention of obtaining a degree in accounting. Due
Q:  What are you doing professionally in the workforce?
A: I am currently the assistant director of the College Scholars Program for the
Precollege Enrichment Opportunity Program for Learning Excellence (PEOPLE) at the
University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Q:  What is the most rewarding aspect of being part of the PEOPLE Program?
A: My first position with PEOPLE was student services specialist for La Follette High
School. When I transitioned to the College Scholars Program, I was able to continue
working with the same high school students from La Follette from admission to UW-
Madison through graduation and beyond. Being able to be a part of our students’ lives
and their journey from a high school student to college graduate and on to graduate
school or a professional career is one of the greatest experiences I have ever had.

Q:  Generally, do you feel supported as a young professional of color in our
A: In the community I have been able to connect with a small group of young
professionals. I don’t know many, but it helps to know I have support from the people I
have met. On the UW-Madison campus I feel strong support from the staff of color.  

Q:  What networks or organizations have you personally and professionally benefited
from here in Madison?  
A: Fortunately, I had family, friends and mentors from Madison so it was easier for me
to transition. Working for PEOPLE allowed me to meet many leaders from campus and
in the community. The current organization I am most involved with is the Hmong
Education Council. I was able to meet Hmong teachers and people who were
committed to advocating for Hmong students’ educational success in the Madison
Metropolitan School District and surrounding districts.

Q:  What are some of the other civic engagements you are involved in?
A: Up until last year, I was a co-advisor for the United Asian Consortium. It was a
student-led community organization that focused on leadership, education, and social
development. Its members were student leaders from high school Asian Clubs within
the Dane County area who had great pride in their ethnic, cultural, and racial
backgrounds. The students developed leadership skills necessary to become college,
career, and community-ready through their collaboration, connection with others, and
community building while organizing for a variety of events that promote strength,
unity, and encouragement.

This student group was a part of MMSD (High School Asian American Association –
HSA3), but discontinued when the MMSD staff who was leading the organization left
the district. The position was not filled but the students wanted to continue their work
so they reached out to a friend who asked me to help with supporting the students.

Q:  What is your proudest accomplishment as a young professional in our community?
A:  One of my proudest accomplishments occurred this past July when the Hmong
Education Council successfully hosted the first ever graduation event for Hmong high
school graduates throughout Dane County. Honestly, I had my doubts but after the
event I am confident that we did the right thing and this event will continue to grow
over the years.

Q:  Who are the people that inspire you in our community?
A: There are too many individuals to name, but one organization that inspires me is
Freedom Inc. Although I am not directly involved as I would like to be, it is
empowering to see them organizing, educating and advocating for our communities of
color and youth. They are some of the most passionate, talented and committed people
I know. I try to incorporate their energy into my work.

Q:  What current issues affecting our city are important to you and why?
A:  In early August, Journey Mental Health Center announced they were ending the
Kajsiab House program, a program that provided 18 years of mental health services
to Hmong people with disabilities and mental wellness education. The announcement
stated they were going to end the program at the end of September. Giving the staff
and people accessing services only one month notice without providing a transition
plan sends a strong message and Journey Mental Health Center should be held
accountable for how they handled this situation. I am concerned about the impact this
will have on the people who were accessing their services and where they can go to
continue support.

Q:  What advice would you give to young professionals of color who are new to
A:  The community may be large, but everyone knows each other or they know
someone who knows someone you know. It is important to find a community and
mentors that share your values because there will be times when you encounter
challenging situations and your support system is what will help you persist.

Q:  What do you enjoy doing outside of your work and civic activities?
A: I enjoy being around friends and family. We’re usually playing sports (volleyball,
golf, disc golf), fishing, traveling or just being in each other’s company.

Nia Trammell is a professional working in the legal field.