by Kara Mireles, UTSA Today
Meet James Pobanz ’14, ’17. This UTSA alumnus and veteran is making a difference in the lives of other local veterans. This spring, Pobanz was offered a job at a local non-profit agency called Family Endeavors. He assists veterans and their families at the Steven A. Cohen Military Family Clinic where quality, accessible and comprehensive mental health care is provided to veterans and their families at no cost. Services are available to any person who has served in the U.S. Armed Forces, including the National Guard and Reserves, regardless of their role or discharge status.
James Pobanz helps veterans struggling with mental illness find housing and jobs.
“My volunteer work and the social work courses I took at UTSA prepared me to help veterans transitioning into civilian life,” said Pobanz. “I am a veteran myself, so I understand the challenges service members face when it comes to pursuing academic and career goals." Pobanz served in the U.S. Army for 17 years, with four overseas combat deployments during that time. After serving in the Army, Pobanz moved to San Antonio to be closer to family. He wanted to continue his education so he enrolled at UTSA in 2013 to earn his bachelor’s degree in multidisciplinary studies.
When he returned to UTSA to pursue his Master of Social Work degree, Pobanz made time to serve. He became involved in veteran volunteer services including the American GI Forum, where he worked with homeless veterans. He was also a mentor for the Wounded Warrior Project and a fellow in the Veterans in Global Leadership program. The latter is run by a non-profit agency that brings together young veterans interested in global leadership opportunities.
“UTSA is very veteran-friendly. I was fortunate that people took time to mentor me during my time at UTSA,” said Pobanz. “I thought it was imperative for me to give back and help others transition into civilian life and being a full-time student."
His desire to give back happened on and off campus. As a mentor of the PIVOT for Academic Success program at UTSA, Pobanz tutored other student veterans.
In 2016, Pobanz was selected as the social work Student of the Year in the UTSA College of Public Policy. He attributes much of his academic success to the scholarships he received as a UTSA student, opportunities like the Juanita Firestone Endowed Scholarship and the Gunn Family Endowed Scholarship in Social Work. The scholarships enabled Pobanz to receive an education and have time to volunteer with different groups.Before graduating from UTSA, he received the President’s Volunteer Service national award for completing 281 community service hours in 2016.
“At some point, we all need a hand up or someone just to listen. The sense of satisfaction one gets from selfless service is immeasurable. I hope that my example motivates UTSA students to engage in our community to become that agent of change,” said Pobanz.
— Kara Mireles