SPU Student Nathan Samayo: Ways to Connect to Community

BY BETH DOUGLASS | PHOTOS BY LUKE RUTAN

Nathan Samayo first picked up his mother’s sewing machine in middle school. Around their tight-knit Tacoma, Washington neighborhood, Nathan’s mom was known for sewing, especially for making all outfits for their local hula group. As he taught himself to sew, his love of fashion and design grew.

Nathan Samayo

“I see fashion as a form of art,” Nathan says. “I like designing for other people.” When he transferred to SPU his sophomore year, Nathan changed majors; switching Business Administration to a minor and trading his Communication major for one unavailable at his previous school: Apparel Design/Merchandising.

Nathan is excited by all the job, internship, and mentor opportunities in Seattle, but he notices the difference between his hometown and the city. “Coming to the city is a totally different experience, especially because my culture is very family-oriented. Tacoma is very residential. It's not as fast-paced as Seattle.”

Transferring to SPU, his key to getting connected has come from friendships with professors, students, and staff. “It’s so cool to see all the multi-ethnic clubs: Black Student Union, Ohana ‘O Hawai'i, Filipino American Student Association. I love having spaces open, like the John Perkins Center, and Multi-Ethnic Programs, and to have people who are there for you. They support us in finding jobs, student leadership activities, mentorships, internships, stuff like that.”

His professors, particularly Jaeil Lee, Professor of Clothing and Textiles and Director of the Fashion Program, encourage students to get internships and other real-world fashion experience. “She was a technical designer at Abercrombie and Fitch; now she teaches here,” Nathan says. “I've met Angela Bees, who is an SPU mentor off-campus. She’s the head of the Nordstrom Product Group, and actually an adjunct professor here, too.”

He also meets regularly with Raedene Copeland, Professor of Clothing and Textiles. “Dr. Copeland is my Ames Scholarship mentor. The Ames scholarship gives support to students from multi-ethnic backgrounds, families experiencing low-income, and first generation college students. I am blessed to be a part of that. Dr. Copeland is the lead for the fashion merchandising major. She went to grad school within the fashion industry. I get to learn from her experience.”

Coming here, Nathan brings his story, life, and experiences to the SPU community — and he’s loved finding places to share about his life while getting to hear about other students’ backgrounds and experiences.

"I was born in Guam, and my family moved to Tacoma when I was 1 year old. I'm the youngest of five. It's been an interesting experience, knowing how my siblings lived in Guam and I lived in Tacoma. It was totally different. I went back last summer and I met the other half of my family who I've never met.”

As Nathan seeks to figure out his ultimate career path, he’s is continuing to explore where his interests, skills, and calling can connect to something of meaning and value. “SPU focuses on vocation, and being able to find where your niche is. Where does your biggest passion meet the world's biggest need? Ultimately, I'd like to use fashion as a part of social change and empowerment.”

Nathan sewing