University of Houston Student is One of Five Statewide to Receive the 2011 Hogg Foundation Scholarship
July 12, 2011
AUSTIN, Texas – University of Houston student Ana Luisa Laws is one of five outstanding Texas graduate students of social work to receive the prestigious 2011 Ima Hogg Scholarship for Mental Health.
Laws is a second-year student at the Graduate College of Social Work and plans to graduate in May 2012. After graduation, she wants to work with families and individuals from diverse populations.
“When I was five years old, my family moved to the United States from Guatamala. I personally experienced the feeling of being an outsider and struggled with not understanding the predominant language or the customs,” she said. “Texas is a great place to serve diverse populations, and given my experience, I can provide empathetic yet professional support.”
Before entering graduate school, Laws was director of professional training at a Houston-based international consulting and training company whose goal is to improve quality of life for children with developmental disabilities. While there, she managed 33 supervisors, trained mental health professionals, and planned and organized seminars, conferences and webinars.
She also served as a consultant to families with children who have developmental disabilities, providing parent education, referrals and assessments.
“Social work is about social justice, advocacy, empowerment, human relationships, and the inherent dignity of all people,” she said. “As a social work professional, I will continue to fight against the stigma of mental illness and work to ensure that my clients are treated equally, respectfully and with dignity.”
Laws earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in sociology from Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas.
Her scholarship comes at a time when Texas is facing critical shortages in the state’s mental health workforce. Texas ranks far below the national average in the number of mental health professionals per 100,000 residents. In 2009, 173 counties in Texas were designated as mental health profession shortage areas, and 40 Texas counties did not have a single social worker.
The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health awards up to five $5,000 scholarships annually to graduate social work students in Texas who plan to provide mental health services after graduation. The scholarship program was created in 1956 by Houston philanthropist Ima Hogg to attract students to mental health careers.
“These scholarships enable the recipients to finish their advanced studies and begin practicing their profession at a time when these skills and knowledge are sorely needed,” said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr., executive director of the foundation.
The Hogg Foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Governor James S. Hogg, and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin. The foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research, and public education.