Three students from Texas State — Blanca Herrera, Tania Motta-Allen and Diane Leal — are among the 22 graduate social work students to receive $386,000 in full tuition scholarships from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Before entering graduate school, Leal worked with Hispanic children and families as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate for children in her current home town, San Antonio. At the completion of her graduate degree, she hopes to provide mental health services in Spanish-speaking communities and help to eradicate the barriers of language and culture in treatment.
Herrera, a resident of Austin, is a first generation American. She initially became aware of the growing shortage of bilingual social workers during her undergraduate work. After graduating, her goal is to use her training, experience, and language skills to help people cope with life and social issues.
Motta-Allen moved to the United States as a child. While working as an undergraduate intern at the Travis County District Attorney’s office, she observed an over-representation of people with mental illness in the criminal justice system. Upon graduating, she would like to work in the mental health and criminal justice fields.
Research has shown people who speak a language other than English are under-represented in social work and other mental health professions, not only in Texas but in the entire the United States. As a result, they are less likely to receive effective mental health services.
To begin addressing the shortage of bilingual mental health workers in Texas, the Hogg Foundation started offering the full-tuition scholarships in fall 2008 and has awarded 51 to date. Seven previous recipients, including two from Texas State, have graduated.
“Graduate schools welcome the scholarship program because it attracts quality students and promotes academic diversity,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. “We view the program as a success because it increases the state’s mental health workforce and supports the foundation’s mission to improve mental health for all Texans.”
The Hogg Foundation was founded in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James Hogg with the intention to promote improved mental health for the people of Texas. The foundation’s grants and programs support mental health consumer services, research, policy analysis and public education projects in Texas. The foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at the University of Texas at Austin.
For more information, contact Merrell Foote, Hogg Foundation communications director, at (512) 471-9142 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.