NACOGDOCHES, Texas — Anna Hartman, a recent graduate of the Master of Social Work program within Stephen F. Austin State University’s School of Social Work, was named the Texas Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers’ Social Work Student of the Year during the association’s conference. 

According to NASW’s website, the award honors a student member of the NASW Texas branch who is enrolled at least half time in a graduate or undergraduate social work program and has made outstanding contributions to the goals and mission of the profession. The award demonstrates leadership; a commitment to social justice, clients and the social work profession; and the integration of social work knowledge, skills, attitudes and values.

“Anna was an exceptional student,” said Wilma Cordova, professor and interim MSW coordinator. “She is engaging, positive and humble and possesses all necessary skills to practice social work at a specialized level. Not only is she kind and intelligent, but she is strong and has faced life adversities that have made her a remarkable social worker. SFA’s School of Social Work is so proud and will continuously support her in her career.”

Crediting perseverance, determination, strength and courage — pillars of the social work profession — Hartman served as project coordinator in the community collaborative, Better Together, which aims to improve mental health and well-being for residents in Nacogdoches County. In the role, Hartman worked with local organizations like the 21/7 Association; National Alliance on Mental Illness; Helping Other People Eat, or HOPE, Food Pantry; and the NAC-CAN Coalition.

“I realized that Nacogdoches was full of extraordinary individuals who are passionate about ending the stigma surrounding mental health,” Hartman said. “It's a place where I discovered not only my mentors but also the key figures who helped me reach where I stand today. At SFA, I learned more than just intro to macro social work. I learned what it takes to be a leader, an advocate and to think outside the box.”

Hartman also developed a social justice campaign to discuss challenges, advocate and support rural children living in poverty. She later named the campaign “#TheForgottenFifth,” in reference to the one in five children facing hunger in the U.S. Hartman wrote to Sen. Ted Cruz requesting support for the campaign. 

Additionally, Hartman is a member of the NASW Deep East Texas Chapter and was president of the Phi Alpha Honor Society and Graduate Association of Student Social Workers while at SFA.

Hartman earned a Bachelor of Social Work in 2017 and later graduated with an MSW in May 2023. Currently, Hartman specializes in mental health therapy and is an enrollment specialist transitioning into case management for a nonprofit charter school in Lewisville.

According to Cordova, since winning the award at the state level, Hartman also will be submitted for the honor at the national level of NASW. The award further recognizes SFA’s School of Social Work as a model institution. 

“I extend my sincere appreciation to SFA’s School of Social Work for equipping me with the tools and resources necessary to assist others,” Hartman said. “As social workers, we hope that by breaking barriers, we inspire others to break barriers.”

For more information about SFA’s School of Social Work, visit the school's website.


Stephen F. Austin State University, the newest member of The University of Texas System, began a century ago as a teachers’ college in Texas’ oldest town, Nacogdoches. Today, it has grown into a regional institution comprising six colleges — business, education, fine arts, forestry and agriculture, liberal and applied arts, and sciences and mathematics. Accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, SFA enrolls approximately 11,000 students while providing the academic breadth of a state university with the personalized attention of a private school. The main campus encompasses 421 acres that include 37 academic facilities, nine residence halls, and 68 acres of recreational trails that wind through its six gardens. The university offers more than 80 bachelor’s degrees, more than 40 master’s degrees and four doctoral degrees covering more than 120 areas of study. Learn more at the SFA website.