Making a Difference: A Q&A with Hogg Bilingual Scholar Kathryn Kelly

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The Hogg Bilingual Scholarship Program funds scholarships for gifted and hard-working bilingual master of social work (MSW) students at all 12 Texas schools of social work that are accredited by the National Council on Social Work Education. The program attempts to address the need for greater linguistic and cultural competency in the state’s mental health workforce.

We caught up with Kathryn Kelly, MSW, a recent graduate of the master of social work program at Texas State University, to ask her about her experience as a Hogg Bilingual Scholarship recipient.

  1. Tell us a little bit about yourself. I spent half my childhood in Delaware and the other half in Mississippi. I went to Flagler College in St. Augustine, Florida to become an English teacher. Upon graduation, and having no luck finding a job, I moved to Mexico to work in a Casa Hogar which then brought me to Texas. I love to spend time reading, cooking, watching movies at Alamo Drafthouse and being in the sun by the pool with a copy of Texas Monthly.
  2. What originally made you gravitate to social work as a profession? I didn’t decide to become a social worker until six months before I applied to school. I worked in a shelter and my colleague was a social worker; the more she talked about her education and the possibilities, the more I knew that was the career for me. I always wanted to give back to society and serve others; I just wasn’t sure how until I worked directly with a social worker.
  3. What/who was your favorite class/professor that you took over the last two years? And why? My favorite class was with Dr. Kathy Selber, one of my social work professors. She was the most real professor I have ever had.
  4. How has the Hogg Bilingual Scholarship helped you achieve your career aspirations? With the Hogg Bilingual Scholarship, I was able to go back to school. I do not think I would have been able to go without the scholarship.
  5. What have been some of the biggest challenges you have had to overcome in working toward your master’s degree? While I was in school, I never felt that I had enough personal time. But, I just had to learn to prioritize my time and evaluate what was truly important for me.
  6. Why are culturally and linguistically competent social workers important and why do you think the Hogg Foundation’s program is important? In every class I had, there was a cultural competency component to it. Because social workers can work with just about every population, it is important for us to be able to communicate culturally and linguistically with these populations on a daily basis. The Hogg scholarships support bilingual social workers in assisting those in the most need.
  7. What have you learned about yourself between the time you started your graduate studies and today? Any lessons or advice for anyone thinking of following in your path? I feel as though I learned so much about myself throughout this process. I had to face my own cultural biases while deciding what populations I wanted to work with. I also had to learn to listen to my body when it was saying that I needed some self care. Another thing that made this experience so eye opening for me was that it taught me to prioritize what is truly important to me in life. I learned that if I was able to get through the social work program, complete my internships, work four nights a week and still have a little bit of a social life, I could do anything. As far as lessons for others: I would say don’t get overwhelmed, and while grades are important the learning aspect is way more important. Also, if you were accepted into the program it is because they have all the confidence in you that you can do ALL the work, and you will. Just take a breath, and relax every now and then!
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