Bilingual grads receive special scholarships

Posted March 05, 2012

Two graduates from ACU's Graduate School of Social Work, Jessica Castillo and Jenna Thorne, have received scholarships from the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

To qualify for the scholarship, Castillo and Thorne each had to be fluent in English and Spanish, commit to working in Texas after graduation for the same length of time as the scholarship, and graduate from one of 12 accredited graduate social work programs in Texas (ACU is one). The scholarships will help the women's postgraduate work with Spanish speakers by paying the full tuition and fees of their graduate education.

Castillo has long known that she wanted to help others through social work. After earning her B.S. in social work from Southwestern Assemblies of God University, Castillo earned her master's degree at ACU.

"With a master’s degree in social work, I have the opportunity to step up and make a real difference for Hispanic youth and families who would otherwise be discouraged by language barriers," she said.

Thorne earned her bachelor's degree in social work from Eastern Washington University and her master's degree from ACU.

"I am passionate about providing services to Spanish-speaking children who are vulnerable and at a severe disadvantage when it comes to mental health services, due to the lack of advocates who can effectively speak for them and understand their culture," Thorne said. "With a master’s degree in social work, I can become that advocate for this underserved population and use my work to change lives."

The Hogg Foundation for Mental Health funds mental health research, public education and services to the state. Over four years, the foundation has awarded 109 scholarships to increase linguistic and cultural diversity in the Texas mental health workforce. The Hogg Foundation funding will help Castillo and Thorne to launch their careers in social work with Spanish-speaking Texas communities.