Hogg Foundation Awards Full Scholarships to Bilingual Graduate Students at Baylor University

March 5, 2012

Follow us on Twitter: @BaylorUMediaCom

Media contact: Lori Fogleman, director of media communications, (254) 710-6275

Baylor University graduate students Lizeth Castillo, Carolina Fuentes and Andres Felipe Monsalve have been awarded scholarships from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health to support bilingual mental health services in Texas. In addition, Bea Florez is a continuing Hogg Scholar, completing her concentration year of Baylor's Master's in Social Work (MSW) degree program.

Now a master's candidate at the Baylor School of Social Work, Castillo graduated with a bachelor's degree in biblical theological studies and an associate of arts in cross-cultural studies from Baptist University of the Americas - San Antonio. She wants to become a licensed social worker so she can effectively serve the Latino community, where there's a major void in mental health services and a lack of linguistically and culturally competent service providers.

"My mission is to use my bilingual skills to build strong foundations for individuals, families and communities by integrating my therapy and counseling knowledge within the Latino population," Castillo said.

Fuentes received a bachelor of arts in environmental studies and religion from Baylor, where she also is pursuing a dual master of divinity/ master of social work degree at George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Growing up in Colombia, Fuentes has firsthand knowledge of the Latino community and seeks to serve this population by providing culturally and linguistically competent mental health services.

"I have a strong desire to use my cultural and educational background to advocate for mental health services within faith communities. I want to help religious organizations realize the needs as well as the strengths of the Hispanic population they could potentially serve," Fuentes said.

Monsalve is a graduate from Pontificia Universidad Javeriana Cali-Colombia, where he concentrated in international relations. He also is pursuing a dual master of divinity/ master of social work degree at Truett Seminary and seeks to use his cultural background combined with his education to serve the Latino community.

"I am very proud of my Hispanic culture and realize that by pursuing a master's degree in social work, I will be able to show my pride in my work by helping the Hispanic population seeking mental health services," Monsalve said.

Florez completed her undergraduate education at the University of Texas Pan American in 2006 and was commissioned in the United States Reserves the same year. Currently a Captain and the commander of the 812th QM Company, Florez has entered the final phase--field placement--of Baylor's MSW program and is interning at Buckner Community Transformation Center and Hope Family Health Clinic in McAllen, Texas. Pursuing a concentration in Mental Health and a specialization in Mexican Immigrant Population, Florez' placement is allowing her to practice on the micro, mezzo and macro levels--from individual therapy to community organizing.

"Being a culturally competent social worker is not just understanding and speaking the Spanish language, it is the knowledge and set of skills that can be used to provide culturally sensitive practice to the Hispanic/Latino population," Florez said. "I plan to continue to use the knowledge and skill set I have gained through my education, experience and practice to provide a service to a population that is underserved."

Now in its fourth year, the bilingual scholarship program has awarded a total of 109 scholarships since fall 2008 to increase cultural and linguistic diversity in the Texas mental health workforce.

"This innovative scholarship program directly addresses the critical need for a more culturally and linguistically competent mental health workforce," said Dr. Octavio N. Martinez Jr., executive director of the Hogg Foundation. "We are excited to infuse the workforce with talented and highly qualified students who have these added skills that are in such high demand now."

Scholarship recipients receive full tuition and fees. Recipients must be fluent in English and a second language chosen by the graduate program, typically Spanish. They also must commit to working in Texas after graduation providing mental health services for a period equal to the timeframe of the scholarship. Scholarships are available at all 12 Texas graduate schools of social work that are accredited or pending accreditation by the national Council on Social Work Education.

Studies have shown populations of color and those who speak a language other than English are under-represented in social work and mental health professions in Texas. As a result, many people may not have access to mental health services that adequately meet their cultural and linguistic needs.

Language differences can be a huge barrier in providing effective mental health services. Even when language barriers are overcome, subtle nuances such as world view, cultural beliefs, religion, family traditions and cultural norms can sometimes interfere with delivering effective treatment. The scholarships are one of many ways in which the Hogg Foundation is working to increase cultural and linguistic awareness, knowledge and skills among mental health service providers in Texas.

About Baylor University

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions.

About the Baylor School of Social Work

The Baylor University School of Social Work is home to one of the leading graduate social work programs in the nation with a research agenda focused on the integration of faith and practice. Upholding its mission of preparing social workers in a Christian context for worldwide service and leadership, the School offers a baccalaureate degree (BSW), a Master of Social Work (MSW) degree and three joint-degree options (MSW/Master of Business Administration, MSW/Master of Divinity and MSW/Master of Theological Studies) through a partnership with Baylor's Hankamer School of Business and George W. Truett Theological Seminary. Visit www.baylor.edu/social_work to learn more.

About the Hogg Foundation

The Hogg Foundation advances recovery and wellness in Texas by funding mental health services, policy analysis, research and public education. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Texas Gov. James S. Hogg, and is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?