The Kansas Hispanic Education Foundation (KHEDF) honored Newman University with a “Make a Difference” award at its Dream Big Fiesta May 25 at Wave, a Wichita events venue.
The KHEDF works to serve Kansas Hispanic students and professionals with opportunities for education and leadership development, beginning in high school and continuing in high school and college. KHEDF has a long history of success and is the leading organization in the Wichita metro area that supports post-secondary education for Hispanic students.
Newman supports the mission of KHEDF through various events, including the Dream Big Fiesta — the organization’s major annual fundraiser. The event invites scholars, parents, KHEDF volunteers, donors and the community together to offer gratitude and celebrate the students’ success.
In early May, Executive Director of KHEDF Micaela Ramirez announced that Newman was a 2023 award recipient for providing more than 30 scholarships for Hispanic students and more than $7,000 in support of KHEDF’s educational initiatives.
“It is an honor to work with professionals of Newman’s high caliber whose hard work and dedication continue to make a difference for our KHEDF scholars and mission,” she said.
Ramirez acknowledged Newman’s recognition as a Hispanic-serving institution by the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, stating that “Newman’s work has and will continue to make it possible for Hispanic students to have more opportunities within post-secondary education.”
Yolanda Camarena, an emeritus board member for KHEDF who also serves on the Newman Board of Trustees, is a first-generation college student and worked as director of admissions for Newman in the early ’80s. Her involvement with KHEDF stems from the belief that education is “one of the most important aspects of success for a person.” She is passionate about ensuring that Hispanic youth have every opportunity to pursue a post-secondary education and jumps at the opportunity to support students through scholarships.
“Seeing the students who come to Newman, what they’ve accomplished and what they’re doing … it’s always been heartwarming,” she said. “I know how difficult it was to get scholarships and financial aid, so I told myself if I ever got to a position where I could help other students, I would.”
Camarena continued, “It is our responsibility as members of a community to help improve the lives of all its citizens, and in doing so we improve our own.”
Vanessa Rials, instructor of social work and director of field education, attended the Dream Big Fiesta and accepted the award on behalf of Newman alongside alumna Jamie Harrison ‘03, chief growth officer at Meritrust Credit Union. Other Newman representatives in attendance included Katherine Reynoso, director of multicultural engagement and campus life, and Yelando Johnson, associate professor of social work and interim director of the Master of Social Work program.
Rials said being a committee member with KHEDF for the past two years has been “an incredible experience.”
“Working closely with the students and reading their impactful essays has been powerful and humbling,” she said.
Along with the presentation of awards, silent auction and donor recognition, the 2023 KHEDF scholars were recognized during the event. Among the list of scholars were Newman students Lydia Andreo, Gimena Casas, Annette Castillo, Gabriel Grajeda, Karol Lopez-Mejia and Adrian Turner.
“These exceptional students inspire me every day, and I consider it a tremendous honor to collaborate with them,” Rials said. “I am delighted that Newman recognizes and invests in KHEDF’s value. I am excited to continue the work with them and what lies ahead.”
Ways to give
Endowments, matching gifts and planned giving are just a few ways to ensure that students have the capability and resources to reach their full potential and transform society.