Seymour students attend Latino Education Summit

A group of Seymour High School students attended the 11th annual Indiana Latino Education Summit and College and Career Fair last month in Indianapolis.

The Indiana Latino Institute, Indiana Department of Education and Indiana Commission for Higher Education sent a letter to SHS Principal Greg Prange extending the invitation.

Across Indiana’s K-12 schools, 13% of students identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the Indiana Department of Education.

The event was held in an effort to support those students as they consider their next steps after high school, and the summit provided access to important information and resources.

The Indiana Latino Institute offered the summit in three locations: South Bend, Indianapolis and Evansville.

Katie Leitzman, director of federal and state programs for Seymour schools, said 50 juniors and seniors from SHS attended the summit Sept. 9 at JW Marriott Indianapolis.

“The only expense for SCSC was to provide transportation, which the Indiana Latino Institute subsidized part of the cost,” Leitzman said. “The event itself was funded by Indiana Latino Institute, IDOE and the Indiana Commission for Higher Education.”

She said 38% of SHS students identify as Hispanic or Latino, and those students have the lowest college-going rate in the state at 49%, which is below the statewide average of 59%

“So we knew this event could be very instrumental in connecting our students with postsecondary opportunities,” Leitzman said.

The day started with Carlos Ojeda Jr., a youth empowerment speaker and university administrator, speaking to a room of more than 2,000 Latino students across the state about his journey through life.

His main message reminded students their voice is their power, Leitzman said.

“Our students were able to learn about scholarship opportunities, network and ask questions to university administrators and students,” she said. “It was a proud moment when we realized we had former students who graduated from SHS who were now at the event representing their universities.”

She said Seymour schools strive to provide excellence to every student every day and take advantage of opportunities for all children.

“We are so glad students were able to leave this event feeling inspired and hopeful with an abundance of resources,” Leitzman said. “We definitely plan to attend again next year.”

Randy Rothbauer, Seymour High School EL department chairman, and Jose Martinez, assistant director of federal programs, were instrumental in making this trip happen, she said.

Activities at the summit included a financial aid workshop, a college application workshop, a college student panel workshop, a college and career fair, a keynote speaker, lunch for all students, access to a scholarship database, Indiana Latino Institute support services, a college access guide and more. There also were raffles to win laptops, iPads and gift cards.

Martinez said the session they attended in Indianapolis was at capacity with 2,000 students, and he met some people from as far north as Warsaw.

“From Seymour High School, we charted a bus to take 50 students, juniors and seniors,” Martinez said. “Rafael Sanchez from the local TV news channel was the there serving as the emcee of the event, and the students got to say, ‘Good Morning, Indiana,’ which starts their morning news show.”

For information about the Indiana Latino Education Summit, visit