Southwest Airlines is committed to making our communities stronger. We believe that our people are our most powerful fuel, and we continue to find ways to make a difference in the lives of those living in the cities we serve. MANA de San Diego believes in a future where all young people succeed, empowering Latinas through education, development, community service and advocacy. That is why Southwest Airlines is proud to provide the means for Latina professionals to travel to conferences that will develop their leadership skills. The key to their success has been the sisterhood that provides support and encouragement for all Latinas of all ages, at all levels of their careers.

 

MANA de San Diego

MANA de San Diego (MANASD) empowers Latinas at every stage of their lives, starting in seventh grade to retirement. For over twenty years, Southwest Airlines has been a long-time community partner. The Hermanitas (little sisters) Program starts in seventh grade and is a one-on-one mentorship program that focuses on high school completion, career exploration, leadership development and community service. The Program has a 90% retention rate and 100% high school completion rate. Once the high school students enroll in college, the Tias (aunts) volunteers step in. The goal of Tias is to provide student support for them to persist to graduation, 93% of their college students continue to graduation, and 80% of their college students complete their degree or certificate program within six years. Throughout the years, Southwest Airlines has flown Hermanitas and their chaperones to visit potential colleges and flown college students who are studying away back home to visit their families. MANASD’s program participants have been able to attend conferences throughout the nation thanks to the Southwest Airlines luv.

Grecia Jimenez is an Hermanitas alumna, Tias program participant, and scholarship recipient. In June, Grecia graduated cum laude from UC Riverside with a Bachelor of Arts in Public Policy. She finished her B.A. in three years, thanks to the college credits she earned in high school. Grecia shares the following on her experience with MANASD:

I am grateful to have been part of the Hermanitas program, the college edition program, and a scholarship recipient. I received a MANASD scholarship during my three years in college. With my first MANASD scholarship, I purchased the laptop I used daily for classes. Without a laptop, navigating college would have been almost impossible. COVID-19 brought additional mental and physical challenges, but I persisted. As an aspiring lawyer, MANA de San Diego connected me to one of its members Marissa Bejarano, who was working as a San Diego District Attorney. Judge Bejarano is so impressive, she spoke to me on the phone, giving me the guidance I needed as a first-generation college student. Judge Bejarano shared her experience with me and offered motivation and tips on the law school application process. I struggled to find an internship due to the pandemic. Judge Bejarano sent my resume with a short introduction about myself to Latinas in the law. I was offered so many interviews! I had an interview with Mara Elliot, the first woman and first Latina City Attorney of San Diego. Norma Jasso, a MANASD volunteer, helped me prepare for the interviews. Last summer, I was an administrative intern at the City Attorney’s office. I was also a legal intern with Kuyateh Law Group. I have been working with them since June, 2021. I have learned so much from being part of MANA de San Diego programs. Being in the Hermanitas program for most of high school taught me an incredible amount about confidence, teamwork and leadership skills. One day, I hope to be a great mentor like the mentors I had.

In addition to the Hermanitas and Tias program, MANASD awards scholarships to Latinas pursuing higher education. MANASD’s vision is to have more Latinas in leadership positions in San Diego. Their Latina Success Leadership Program (LSLP), a partnership with the Center for Creative Leadership Institute, has graduated over 300 Latinas and prepared them for next steps in their career and leadership journey.