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Thrive at Washburn

New scholarships create long-term investment in Shawnee County students

A student and library worker hugging

Washburn student Sophia Calderon-Sosa embraces Franki Ostrom, ba ’20, instructional librarian, after learning about the new scholarship she will receive. Photo by Scott Brackey

From The Ichabod - Fall 2023
By Annie Flachsbarth

Although recent Highland Park High School graduate Jackie Perez applied to other Kansas schools outside of Topeka, when she learned she qualified to receive Washburn University’s new Shawnee County Promise scholarship – which will pay her tuition for all four years of her Washburn education – the decision of where to attend was an easy one.

“I jumped for joy,” Perez said. “Not only do I not have to worry about how I’m going to pay back my tuition, but I’m also not putting that burden on my parents. I am blessed; not everyone gets this opportunity.”

Education for All

The Shawnee County Promise scholarship is part of Together We Thrive, a financial aid package launched this summer to target Shawnee County high school graduates to help retain and nurture local talent. The initiatives represent a significant investment in the future of Washburn students and the county.

Upon meeting certain criteria, the Shawnee County Promise scholarship reduces the barrier to higher education for students from households with an income of $75,000 or less. True to its name, this scholarship promises Shawnee County high school graduates a chance to attend Washburn tuition-free. The Washburn Shawnee County Thrives scholarship provides Shawnee County high school graduates $1,000 per year to attend Washburn University or $750 per year to attend Washburn University Institute of Technology – regardless of income level. Others can qualify for these scholarships as well. See information on right for more details.

“We are doubling down on our commitment to Shawnee County by investing in the young people of our community,” said JuliAnn Mazachek, president, Washburn. “Washburn is proud to be a municipal university that is supported, in part, by the taxpayers of Topeka and Shawnee County. We plan to reinvest into local students and help them realize their educational dreams right here at home.”

These scholarships not only mirror Washburn's dedication to providing affordable access to quality education, but also the mission to secure equal outcomes for all students. This commitment has not gone unnoticed. U.S. News and World Report recognized Washburn as Kansas’ top public regional university last year, also noting the university has the least student debt among all public regional universities in the state.

The Pursuit of Happiness

For incoming freshmen like Perez, the scholarship removes any concerns she had about the cost of pursuing a college degree, even when coming from a lower-income family.

“As a first-generation college student, I’m looking forward to not having to worry about finances, and really enjoying my college career,” Perez said. “I’m excited to walk across the stage in four years knowing I’m the first person in my family to graduate from college.”

Washburn is not just investing in the education of students, but in the very fabric of Shawnee County's future. Emilio Chavez, ba ’22, Washburn admissions counselor, said interest in Washburn will continue to grow as more Shawnee County students learn about this opportunity. He hopes this will help those students know they belong at Washburn.

“We’re setting an example that there are a lot of good things happening here and in the community,” Chavez said.

A student being surprised next to Alan Bearman

(Topeka High School senior Yania Soto learns from Alan Bearman, vice president of enrollment management and dean of student success and libraries, that she will receive the Shawnee County Promise scholarship (right, photo by Jennifer Wiard)

With these trailblazing initiatives, Washburn is paving the way for students in Shawnee County to both chase their dreams and contribute significantly to their hometown.

For Perez, that dream is to obtain her nursing degree and get a job as a registered nurse at a Topeka hospital or pediatric clinic. She’s also open to other specialties after she explores her options. For now, she has a part-time job to support herself through college.

Headshot“I’m planning to live at home to save money and stay closer to family,” Perez said. “I also have connections with my high school ROTC program. Not having to worry about paying for school while I’m in school will be a big burden off my shoulders and allow me to focus on my education while helping out the ROTC program in any way I can.”

According to Chavez, promoting these new scholarships is the next step for the undergraduate recruitment and admissions team. They plan to visit Shawnee County high schools to make sure students know what they can get from Washburn before they decide where to attend school.

“Washburn is changing students’ and parents’ lives with the addition of these scholarships,” Chavez said. “As we promote these scholarships, and people see they can get a high-quality and affordable education here, more students will consider Washburn.”


Together We Thrive

Financial Aid Package

Available to Shawnee County high school and home school graduates, including freshmen, transfer and current full-time students. Other criteria may apply.

Shawnee County Promise: Full tuition paid for those meeting certain financial requirements

Washburn Shawnee County Thrives: $1,000 a year at Washburn University and $750 a year at Washburn Tech, regardless of income level

Learn more at and


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Topeka, KS 66604 Phone: 785.670.4483