"Social work believes in the inherent dignity of all people, a basic respect that all people deserve."
Ana Laws believes in social work—the way it advocates for those in need; the way it connects people to resources; the way it helps. A student at the UH Graduate College of Social Work and a native of Guatemala, Laws wants to work with diverse populations whose experiences as an outsider mirror her own. Her efforts have earned her a prestigious 2011 Ima Hogg Scholarship for Mental Health.
"I was only five when I moved here and the only words my parents taught me was 'hi, my name is Ana Luisa and I'm five years old,'" she laughs. "I saw what my siblings and I went through so that we could fit in, and that piece has allowed me to work with different populations and understand where they may be struggling."
The Hogg Foundation awards up to five scholarships a year in support of its mission to advance mental health services, policy analysis, research, and public education. Laws says, at the college of social work, she is surrounded by like-minded professors whose aim is to create a climate of service and justice.
"The concept of social justice and fighting the stigma of mental illness is a personal and professional battle I've chosen that will stick with me the rest of my life," she says. "I hope it's not just while I'm a social worker, but as long as I'm alive."
Social work and social justice are part of what's happening at the University of Houston. I'm Marisa Ramirez.
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