(Feb. 8, 2018) -- Meet Laura Villarreal ’08, ’14. This UTSA alumna is bringing awareness to mental health at the Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas.
Born and raised in San Benito, Texas, Villarreal knew UTSA was the right choice after a campus tour in high school.
“When I stepped on campus and saw the community, I knew that UTSA was the one,” she said.
The four-hour commute from Villarreal’s hometown gave her a safety net. She was close to family but far enough to feel independent. Eventually, she earned both her bachelor’s and her master’s degrees in communication from UTSA.
After graduating with her master’s degree, Villarreal joined Girls Inc., a nonprofit that empowers and educates girls, as a fund development manager. From there, she climbed to development director at Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas. Her primary duties currently include coordinating partnerships and campaigns, and managing events that support the nonprofit’s community efforts.
Villarreal says that the mission of the Children’s Bereavement Center really resonates with her. In high school, she experienced the loss of two close friends to suicide within months of each other.
“In the Hispanic culture, I’ve seen that many times we aren’t given the space to grieve properly. After a certain amount of time, we dismiss it. It’s amazing to see families come through our doors wanting help during their journey of grief.”
The Children’s Bereavement Center of South Texas provides free services to children and families who have been affected by the passing of a loved one. The program offers peer support groups and individual counseling to help children and young adults aged three to 24.
“What I love about my job is that our team is able to help kids and the community heal after their time of loss,” said Villarreal.
Villarreal is especially excited about the Center’s partnership between UTSA, Whataburger and other nonprofits. The community partners have joined together to provide counseling services to the families and children affected by the recent tragedy in Sutherland Springs.
“This is a full-circle moment to be working with my university and support families near my hometown.”
Villarreal is hopeful that the conversation around mental wellness will continue to expand in the future. She is eager to make a positive and sustained impact in the community.
“Going to UTSA and choosing this field of work are the best decisions I’ve ever made. The impact you make in other people’s lives is a warm, fulfilling feeling that I encourage everyone to seek in their careers.”
Students are invited to a semi-formal, dinner banquet with an awards presentation and dancing. Keynote speaker will be San Antonio City Councilman William Cruz Shaw. Tickets must be purchased by Feb 19 at Roadrunner Express. UTSA students are $15 and guests are $20.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.104/1.106), Main Campus
Dr. Don Jenkins from UT Health SA will lead this event UTSA with up to 30 certified STB trainers, and train up to 300 UTSA students and personnel in stop the bleed methods.H-E-B Student Union Ballroom (HSU 1.106), Main Campus
Get to know more about the Bexar County Criminal District Court candidates' stance on the issues before voting in the primary election on March 6.Buena Vista Street Building, Aula Canaria (BVB 1.328), Downtown Campus
As part of RecycleMania,UTSA will provide sensitive document shredding services for the UTSA community. Bring documents to the parking lot between Student Union & Ximenes Avenue Garage. Document pick up also available for the Downtown and Hemisfair Campuses.H-E-B Student Union parking lot, Main Campus
Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Koichiro Bansho will speak the importance of the Japan-U.S. relations from the historical and security perspectives. He will go over the history and future of the alliance between the two countries.H-E-B Student Union, Travis Room (HSU 2.202), Main Campus
This panel discussion includes professionals from various careers and fields talking about maintaining a black identity in professional spaces.Student Union Denman Room (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
The Faculty Center presents geneticist, anthropologist, author & entrepreneur Spencer Wells. Join us for a talk about how our DNA informs the way our ancestors populated the planet and how research can change industry and perceptions.Student Union Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus
Come hear this geneticist, anthropologist, author and entrepreneur speak about "The Human Journey: A Genetic Odyssey." The lecture is free and open to the public.Student Union, Retama Auditorium (SU 2.02.02), Main Campus