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Social work intern Illiana Villarreal is excited to be working with HOLA students on deeper issues. With a background in education and as a former teacher, Illiana wasn’t able to be as involved with her students due to school policies. She faced many roadblocks in the school setting, only being able to help students with academics and not deeper emotional issues. Because of these reasons, Illiana decided to get into social work. At HOLA, she gets to help students feel empowered and help them learn how to use their voices, along with working with students on issues like grieving, academic-related stress and building healthy family relationships. She really enjoys being able to have open conversations with students and has found that they are so willing to share because they just want somebody to talk to because they either don’t have that or don’t have undivided attention from their parents.

Illiana is currently majoring in social work at USC. After graduation, she wants to become a Licensed Social Worker. While she is not exactly sure what she wants to do after she becomes licensed, she is leaning towards working on mental health issues with youth.

While Illiana is very busy with work and school, she enjoys checking out local free events, like seeing up and coming bands perform in MacArthur Park. She also enjoys dining at yummy restaurants and finding delicious hidden gems!


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