Stephen F. Austin State University student Sonya Baker of Jacksonville is one of 10 students at Texas graduate social work programs to receive $50,000 in special scholarship awards honoring the 70th anniversary of the Hogg Foundation for Mental Health.

Baker has 20 years of experience as a social worker at Rusk State Hospital and in nursing homes in Chandler and Jacksonville. She has a bachelor's degree in social work and wants to earn a master's degree so she can provide more advanced mental health services in a rural setting.

"I also want to provide focus groups and educate the community on mental illness," Baker said. "During my career, I have seen many changes and much progress with services provided, but I see a need for more involvement in mental illness."

In recent years, the Hogg Foundation has awarded five $5,000 Ima Hogg scholarships annually to graduate social work students who plan to provide mental health services after graduation.The scholarship program was created in 1956 by Ima Hogg to attract students to mental health careers.

This year, the Hogg Foundation doubled the number of scholarships to mark its 70th year of promoting mental health in Texas. The foundation was created in 1940 by the children of former Governor James S. Hogg and has awarded millions of dollars to support mental health services, research, policy analysis and public education in Texas.

"Miss Ima truly was gifted in her vision for improving mental health in Texas," Executive Director Dr. Octavio N. Martinez, Jr. said. "The scholarship program she created five decades ago is more relevant than ever today as Texas faces a serious and widening gap between the mental health workforce and the need for services."

Scholarship recipients must attend a Texas graduate social work program that is accredited or pending accreditation by the national Council on Social Work Education.

The Hogg Foundation is part of the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at The University of Texas at Austin.