(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.”
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Through the month of February, the UTSA community is invited to join student organizations, colleges and departments at events that commemorate the African American people, places and events that have paved the way for racial equality.Various locations
Diploma Dash is a fast, certified 5k course for runners and a scenic route around Main Campus for walkers, strollers and dogs! There are individual and team prizes. Benefits UTSA students through the UTSA Alumni Association scholarship program.UTSA Main Campus
Enjoy music, food and socializing during this fundraising event benefiting the San Antonio Symphony League for the Youth Concert Series and the ITC for its ongoing educational mission.UTSA Institute of Texan Cultures, Hemisfair Campus
UTSA Libraries will host Robert Rico, M.P.A., Department of Criminal Justice, for his presentation "Restorative Justice: A Relational Approach to Civic Discourse." Pizza will be provided to students while supplies last.Buena Vista Street Building (BVB 2.309), Downtown Campus
Spend an evening stirring your curiosity during these monthly talks featuring some of UTSA’s most renowned faculty, and learn how the latest research in their fields applies to our daily lives. This month's speaker is Francine Romero, UTSA associate professor and associate dean of the College of Public Policy.The Historic Guadalupe Theatre, 1301 Guadalupe St., San Antonio
Meet with 60+ representatives from Texas and out-of-state schools to get information on becoming a competitive health professions applicant and information about the application and transition process.Student Union Denman Ballroom (SU 2.01.28), Main Campus
UTSA master's of fine arts student Lauren Riojas-Fitzpatrick showcases her thesis through an art exhibit.Terminal 136, 136 Blue Star, San Antonio
Hundreds of students, faculty, staff and alumni will roll up their sleeves to volunteer at nearly 20 service agencies throughout San Antonio.Convocation Center, Main Campus and service projects throughout San Antonio
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