Past Recipients Talk About Impact of Scholarships
September 1, 2008
Previous winners of the Ima Hogg Scholarship say the award provided them with much more than financial aid; it was the inspiration that clinched their decision to pursue a career in mental health.
"I'd thought of going into mental health, but when I got the scholarship it solidified in my mind that it was the right career choice for me," said Jessica M. Findley, a 2006 scholarship recipient who earned a master's degree in social work at Texas State University.
Nancy Saenz, a 2006 scholarship recipient who earned her master's degree at The University of Texas – Pan American, said after nine years in social work she wanted to make a greater contribution.
"I wanted to touch the lives of those with depression and anxiety," she said. "The scholarship provided the funding that allowed me to accomplish my goal."
Today, both Findley and Saenz are improving Texas mental health services, making a significant impact in their communities and realizing their career goals as mental health providers.
Findley works at Austin's Shoal Creek Hospital, where she is co-developing the curriculum of a new cognitive therapy-based unit and helping patients with chemical dependency and their families learn to manage addiction. She hopes to eventually become more involved in advocacy and reducing the stigma of mental illness.
"Anything I can do to support the science behind mental illness and educate people that it is a real disease will help those who struggle with a mental health condition," Findley said.
Saenz counsels individuals and families at Hope Family Help Center and leads community mental health education programs in McAllen. She recently obtained her independent practice recognition and hopes to open her own practice soon.
"My greatest reward is providing services to the people who need it most," Saenz said. "Over time, I see the changes in their lives, their goals, their families – I know we are making a difference."