Underserved Community Aided by Funds to Bilingual Students

Funds Support Bilingual Graduate Social Work Studies

Access to mental health care can be more challenging when there are language barriers.

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health is easing that challenge with scholarships for bilingual students pursuing master's degrees in social work. Two University of Houston students from the Graduate College of Social Work are recipients.

"I chose social work because I want to be able to give back to my community," said Flor Guevara, who aspires to become a clinical social worker in the Spanish-speaking community. "The Hogg Foundation is making a tremendous contribution. Thanks to them, I'll be able to help those who struggle to find support."

Research shows people who speak a language other than English are underrepresented in social work and other mental health professions in Texas and the United States. As a result, they are less likely to receive effective mental health services.

"Being bilingual means that I can help that person with his or her needs and concerns. My goal is to help the Spanish-speaking community obtain their long term goals," said UH student Jorge Ruiz, also a scholarship recipient. "I want to reach out to those who remind me of me and my family and their struggles. It will be an honor to be able to be a bridge to their success."

Both Ruiz and Guevara will receive funds to cover their two years of graduate work. Two other GCSW students are completing their bilingual social work studies thanks to scholarships provided by the Hogg Foundation.

"We view the program as a success because it increases the state's mental health work force and supports the foundation's mission to improve mental health for all Texans," said foundation executive director Octavio N. Martinez, Jr.

The Hogg Foundation began offering the full-tuition scholarships in 2008 and has awarded 51 to date.

For more information on the UH Graduate College of Social Work, visit http://www.sw.uh.edu/main/home.php.

For more information on the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, visit http://www.hogg.utexas.edu/.