Latinos Count Student Conference helps Hispanic young women plan for their future

The presentation on medical assisting by Deann Knox, standing, medical assisting program chairperson at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne, included letting students see some of the items used in the program. Latina students from 10 area high schools were expected to attend the Latinos Count Student Conference held Friday at Ivy Tech's main campus on North Anthony Boulevard. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)
Deann Knox, right, medical assisting program chairperson at Ivy Tech Community College in Fort Wayne, speaks about the program with young women attending the Latinos Count Student Conference held Friday at Ivy Tech's main campus on North Anthony Boulevard. Latina students from 10 area high schools were expected to attend to learn more about career options and how to access the resources to pursue those goals. (By Kevin Kilbane of News-Sentinel.com)

About 175 Hispanic young women from 10 northeast Indiana high schools learned about career options and how to access resources to achieve those goals during a special conference Friday morning at Ivy Tech Community College’s main campus on North Anthony Boulevard.

The event for young women only was organized by Latinos Count, a Fort Wayne-based nonprofit organization that works to help Latino students take control of decisions about their education and career plans.

Group held a similar event in September for Hispanic young men attending area high schools.

The young women had a chance to meet in small groups with Hispanic women professionals and college students, attend hands-on learning sessions with Ivy Tech educators and hear from a panel of Hispanic women working in professions in the Fort Wayne area.

They also were scheduled to receive a presentation from Eric Doden, president and CEO of Greater Fort Wayne, which works to encourage economic development and investment in the Fort Wayne area. In addition, they could attend workshops on college and career options and obtaining college financial aid.

Access to information about scholarships, grants and other financial aid seems to be one of the biggest obstacles for young Latinas thinking about their futures after high school, said Rose Costello, executive director of human resources at Ivy Tech-Fort Wayne and a board member of Latinos Count.

Conference organizers also want to ensure high school Latinas know they have a range of options for careers and the education required for those jobs, Costello said. Options range from a four-year college degree to a two-year college degree or certificate program for certain professions, she said. Women are needed in many fields, ranging from engineering to professions that don’t require a four-year degree, such as medical assisting.

Costello said she and other Latinos Count Student Conference organizers also hope the event will connect Hispanic young women with a network of other young Latinas like themselves, as well as with mentors in the work force who can offer them advice and guidance in the future.

“It is important for us to connect as Latinas,” she said.

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