Each year, the Hogg Foundation awards Ima Hogg Scholarships to graduate social work students who have committed to joining the mental health workforce.

An investment in their post-graduate careers is an investment in improving the quality of mental health services across Texas, where the mental health workforce is in critical condition. In Texas, many live in areas where there is a shortage of mental health professionals. This is especially true in rural areas of the state. Social workers can play a vital role in addressing the mental health workforce shortage.

This year, 19 graduate social work students from across Texas received scholarships of $5,000 each. These students, nominated by the heads of their social work programs, were chosen for their commitment to strengthening the well-being of communities as professionals in the Texas mental health workforce.

The 2022 recipients are:

Sarah AkhtarSarah AkhtarUniversity of Texas San Antonio “As a social worker, I intend to develop integrative healthcare programs in underserved communities utilizing a holistic approach that addresses physical and mental health needs as well as the deficits contributing to those needs.”
Elia BautistaElia BautistaUniversity of Texas Rio Grande Valley “To me, one of the most important roles that a social worker has is being an advocate. Advocacy is important in helping end stigma and helping clients receive the equal rights and resources they need.”
Rebekah CarrRebekah CarrWest Texas A&M State University“My experiences serving, engaging, and listening to diverse groups of people have drawn me into the social work profession.”
Katya CompianKatya CompianUniversity of Texas at El Paso“My experiences helped me realize that working with and providing support to the perpetrators of crime can possibly be the most effective way to protect future victims.”
LaJeana DemusLaJeana DemusOur Lady of the Lake University“As a social worker, the impact I would like to make is for people to know that regardless of their mental health they can still achieve their goals. I want to encourage people to permit themselves to seek help and not be afraid and shamed.”
Rachel DornRachel DornTexas State University“As a future military social worker within the Veterans Administration or service branch, I am looking forward to being a part of the solution to help my fellow Texans get the treatment that they need.”
Destani ErwinDestani ErwinTarleton State University“My career goal is to continue helping families understand the facts about adolescent mental health needs and resources, with the overall hope of decreasing parental relinquishments and out-of-home Child Protective Service removals.”
Breanna Lee HazelBreanna Lee HazelUniversity of Texas at Arlington“I hope to become a mental health/substance abuse social worker and help equip people with the right tools to cope and manage with their everyday lives.”
Elizabeth MadaelilElizabeth MadaelilUniversity of Texas at Austin“My long-term goal is to ease the process of finding culturally humble therapists with varied specialties, resulting in an increased availability and approachability of clinical care for underserved populations.”
Taylor Maestas-MillerTaylor Maestas-MillerTexas A&M University-Kingsville“I want to continue learning and gaining experience in best professional practices in order to serve the most vulnerable populations.”
Samantha MontoyaSamantha MontoyaStephen F. Austin State University“Working in an intensive outpatient behavioral hospital has been rewarding– I have seen the difference it makes in the lives of individuals and how the support can make a change in someone’s life.”
Ouida MosleyOuida MosleyTexas A&M University-Texarkana“I hope to establish a standard that counseling is not a stigmatizing experience, but rather a rewarding one that enables individuals to discuss and process issues in a safe, loving, and nonjudgmental environment.”
Francis OkaforFrancis OkaforTexas Tech University“I hope to help people who struggle with mental health challenges and substance use disorders as well as spread mental health awareness in my home country, Nigeria, and beyond.”
Kathryn PierreKathryn PierreUniversity of North Texas“My ultimate professional goal is to offer clinical services that meet and address the unique challenges faced by military servicemembers, veterans, their spouses, and their children.”
Raymond SaucilloRaymond SaucilloUniversity of Houston“I want to work in a healthcare environment helping patients and their families as they react to, cope with, and recover from illness.”
Hannah ShahanHannah ShahanAbilene Christian University“I plan to focus my graduate thesis on the lack of mental health resources at Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene and develop a plan to improve and change the current process that is in place.”
Rita TaylorRita TaylorTexas A&M-Commerce“By obtaining my degree, I will be able to serve and teach mental health/coping skills to preschool children as well as their guardians to reinforce learning. I want to make a difference and ‘be a rainbow in someone else’s cloud.’”
Sydney WheelerSydney WheelerTexas Christian University“I chose to pursue a career in social work because my life has been blessed with the support and guidance of multiple clinical workers.”
Gabby WhiteGabby WhiteBaylor University“I want to address the disparities within the maternal health space that contribute to the high rates of Black maternal mortality and morbidity and provide mental health services to women as they go through each stage of the family planning process from preconception to postpartum.”

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Video correction: Sarah Akhtar is a student at the University of Texas San Antonio.