(July 28, 2011)--Eric Smith, a graduate student at The University of Texas at San Antonio, is one of five outstanding Texas graduate students in social work to receive the prestigious 2011 Ima Hogg Scholarship for Mental Health.
Smith is a second-year student in the UTSA Department of Social Work and plans to graduate in May 2012. After graduation, he wants to provide mental health services to active-duty military members, veterans and their families.
Before entering graduate school, Smith was in the U.S. Army for nearly 30 years. He said his military experience has provided him with a special understanding and appreciation for the mental health needs of veterans and their loved ones.
"During my final year of service as a sergeant major, I became personally acquainted with post-traumatic stress disorder while working with soldiers who had completed multiple tours of duty in Iraq," Smith said. "They had experienced firsthand the horrors of war. Suddenly, they had to cope with feelings that were foreign to them and that they dared not share with others."
Smith said the military continues to struggle with way to best treat nearly 300,000 soldiers who have returned from Iraq with traumatic brain injury, severe depression and other mental health conditions.
"The mental health needs of these soldiers and their loved ones are formidable. My passion for working with them is what led me to enroll in the graduate social work program," he said.
Smith has a bachelor's degree in occupational education from Wayland Baptist University in Plainview, Texas, and a master's degree in computer resources and information systems from Webster University in St. Louis, Mo. He is a member of the National Association for Social Workers.
His 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 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.
The UTSA community welcomes students to their on-campus home! Laurel Village, Chaparral Village and Alvarez Hall are home for 2,300 students during the academic year, and Move-In event kicks off the start of Roadrunner Days.
Laurel Village, Chaparral Village, Alvarez Hall, Main Campus
After a day full of moving and getting settled into their new UTSA home, students and their families can have some refreshments and snacks at the Welcome Back Reception. The event tops off with the premiere performance of the Spirit of San Antonio, UTSA's Marching Band.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
Can you survive the library wilderness? As a part of Roadrunner Days, UTSA Libraries is hosting a mobile adventure for you to play and find out more about the library!
John Peace Library, 2nd floor, Main Campus
Come meet your UTSA Volleyball Team as they gear up for the 2017 season! The game begins at 5 p.m. then the team will hold an autograph and photo session after the game.
Convocation Center, Main Campus
This engaging discussion pulls back the covers on hooking up, clarifying when it’s actually sexual violence and how bystanders can protect potential victims from predators.
University Center, Retama Auditorium (UC 2.02.02), Main Campus
Late Night at the Rec is an awesome UTSA tradition that transforms a standard information session into an exciting night of fun. At this annual event, you’ll be able to learn about our facilities, recreation programs, and wellness services offered at Main and Downtown Campuses.
Recreation and Wellness Center, Main Campus
The UTSA community is invited to the Community Networking events hosted by the Student Center for Community Engagement and Inclusion during Roadrunner Days. Various opportunities will be available that will focus on our diverse population.
H-E-B University Center Ballrooms (HUC 1.104 and HUC 1.106), Main Campus
Start in the Paseo then branch out around campus so you know where to go on the first day of classes.
University Center Paseo, Main Campus
The University of Texas at San Antonio is dedicated to the advancement of knowledge through research and discovery, teaching and learning, community engagement and public service. As an institution of access and excellence, UTSA embraces multicultural traditions and serves as a center for intellectual and creative resources as well as a catalyst for socioeconomic development and the commercialization of intellectual property - for Texas, the nation and the world.
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