Marisa Pineda, a student at The University of Texas-Pan American, is one of 10 students at Texas graduate social work programs to receive $50,000 in special scholarship awards honoring the 70th anniversary of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.
Pineda's goal is to provide mental health services and offer psychotherapy and therapeutic interventions to help members of her community deal with emotional distress and cope with everyday life. The Weslaco native currently works with Spanish-speaking mental health service consumers at an outpatient psychiatric hospital and is a research assistant in geriatric mental health at the university. She also has experience working as a volunteer counselor with victims of domestic violence. She has a bachelor's degree in psychology.
"My interest is in the advancement of mental health, specifically for the Hispanic population of the Rio Grande Valley," said Pineda, who speaks English and Spanish. "I feel that consumers can relate to me and vice versa because we speak the same language. I also understand the importance of family and human relationships in the Hispanic culture."
In recent years the Hogg Foundation has awarded five $5,000 Ima Hogg scholarships annually to graduate social work students who plan to provide mental health services after graduation. The scholarship program was created in 1956 by Miss Ima Hogg to attract students to mental health careers.
This year, the Hogg Foundation doubled the number of scholarships to mark its 70th year of promoting mental health in Texas. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Governor James S. Hogg and has awarded millions of dollars in Texas to support mental health services, research, policy analysis and public education.
"Miss Ima truly was gifted in her vision for improving mental health in Texas. The scholarship program she created five decades ago is more relevant than ever today as Texas faces a serious and widening gap between the mental health workforce and the need for services," said Executive Director Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr.
Scholarship recipients must attend a Texas graduate social work program that is accredited or pending accreditation by the national Council on Social Work Education.
The Hogg Foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.