Angela Vela, MSSW ‘21, was recently awarded the 2020 Consuelo W. Gosnell Memorial Scholarship by the NASW Foundation, for her commitment to American Indian and Latino populations and her outstanding academic record.
The scholarship is awarded to master’s degree candidates in social work who have demonstrated a commitment to working with, or who have a special affinity with, American Indian/Alaska Native and Hispanic/Latino populations. The scholarship provides 10 recipients up to $4,000 each.
“I chose social work because I care deeply about my community of South Texas, the LGBTQ+2S community, Latinx and Indigenous Peoples and older adults,” Vela said. “I’m aware of the medical racism and traumas that are deeply embedded in our healthcare system and I hope that by becoming a social worker and therapist, I can better serve my community.”
Prior to enrolling in the Steve Hicks School as a master’s student, Vela earned her bachelor’s in English, Mexican American and Latinx Studies, and completed a certificate in Native American and Indigenous Studies. She also completed the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship, where she focused on health disparities and spiritual health in literature. She’s worked with Indigenous youth at UT Austin’s Multicultural Engagement Center and the Indigenous Cultures Institute of San Marcos.
Vela said she hopes to continue working with Indigenous and Latinx communities after graduating. She is interested in centering her practice in eco-therapy, and learning more about Indigenous and Latinx people and their relationship to land, ancestral foodways and mental health. She said her goal is to provide services to farmworkers, meatpackers and dairy workers, and to work across South Texas to address mental health needs and disparities that have been exacerbated by COVID-19.
“I’m passionate about care and connection between our bodies, mental well-being, and food, and I hope to earn a PhD in food studies or medical anthropology in the future,” Vela said.