Topeka, Kan. – More than 200 Latina middle and high school students from the Shawnee County area will be on the Washburn University campus March 22 for the 12th annual Hermanitas Conference. MANA de Topeka Hermanitas Conference has been serving more than 200 Latina youth in Topeka since 2010. This conference serves to build leadership skills, introduce students to community leaders and mentors and welcome them to a college campus. The value of this program for young students in their formative school years has been to open their eyes to available academic and professional opportunities, giving them the confidence to pursue paths they may not have otherwise known.

     “Many of the participants have never been on a college campus before, so the day provides Washburn and MANA with the opportunity to help these young women learn how to dream and to provide them with the tools to fulfill those dreams,” said Dr. Kim Morse, professor of history at Washburn University and conference co-organizer.

Conference Schedule

Events will be in Washburn Room in the Memorial Union

9 - 9:15 a.m.         Welcome
9:20 - 10 a.m.        Morning Keynote
10:05 – 11 a.m.      Jobs and Careers: What are our options?
Speed Chat with Professionals Round 1
11:05 - 11:20 a.m.   Dance Party
11:20 a.m. - 12 p.m. We want to know more! Speed Chat with Professionals Round 2
12:05 - 12:50 p.m.    Lunch with Special Guests
12:50 - 1:50 p.m.      A Girl’s Journey – Game Time (Middle School)

                                Thinking College (High School)

1:55 p.m                  Depart for home school or campus tours


       As students continue to rebuild academic and other skills after the pandemic, conversations about perseverance and imagining success remain pertinent. Our keynote speaker is Justice Rachel Pickering, the first Hispanic person to serve on the Kansas Court of Appeals, will help students see those themes through her experiences. Following the keynote, conference participants will engage in two rounds of “Speed Chat with Professionals,” an activity that provides participants the opportunity to learn more about multiple professions and the education necessary to reach professional goals. In total, approximately three dozen area professionals will support the Hermanitas through this activity.

     After lunch, middle school conference participants will play a game designed for the conference called “A Girl’s Journey.”  Loosely based on “Life,” players have the opportunity to think about choices that move them toward higher education and learn about tools to help them reach career goals while, on occasion, practicing their set shots or running a relay race.  High school Hermanitas will engage with Washburn staff and students in a break-out session on scholarships and college life.

    “We now have Speed Chat Professionals who were once Hermanitas, proof positive impact of the Hermanitas Conference,” said Morse.

     Hermanitas is pleased to welcome back three Washburn and Hermanitas alumni as overall conference facilitators, Jessica de la Rosa, Analisa Chavez-Muñoz and Megan Dorantes.

     Washburn University and MANA de Topeka are sponsoring the conference.


About Washburn University 

         Founded in 1865, Washburn University is a public institution with more than 6,000 students involved in more than 200 academic programs. Washburn’s programs lead to certification, associate, bachelor, master's degree or doctor of nursing practice and juris doctor degrees. The programs are offered through Washburn’s six primary academic units – College of Arts and Sciences, School of Applied Studies, School of Business, School of Nursing, School of Law and Washburn Institute of Technology (Washburn Tech).

            All programs are offered on either the 160-acre residential campus in the heart of Topeka, Kan., at Washburn Tech’s campus on Topeka’s west side or in the east Topeka facility. Washburn University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association and many of the individual programs have additional accreditations.

About MANA de Topeka

        Founded in 2005, MANA de Topeka is a local chapter of the National MANA organization committed to improving the lives of Latinos and the community through Latino Leadership. Learn more at


For further information contact:
Joy Bailes
Director of Internal Communications and Brand Management
Telephone: (785) 670-2153
Cell: (785) 230-1648
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