Without community, we cannot grow. Harris College alumni focus their efforts on community and community building as they use the skills they learned at TCU to create a better future for others. Look no further than Licensed Social Worker Abriana Terrell ’18 and her holistic approach to homelessness.
Terrell was born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Desoto, Texas. From a young age, she naturally advocated for herself and others, especially after witnessing her mother’s struggle with mental illness. This, along with her passion for running track and cross-country, shaped her upbringing.
Terrell initially dreamt of becoming a psychologist due to her interest in psychology and fascination with the human mind. Her path took a different turn when she got accepted into the Community Scholars’ program at TCU. Considering majoring in fashion and psychology, she made an unexpected choice when her father suggested social work – a decision she came to love.
After graduating from TCU, Terrell dedicated her life to helping others by working with foster care youth, the geriatric population and hospice care. Her experiences solidified her conviction to serve those in need, particularly the homeless, as she had firsthand experience with homelessness through her mother’s struggles.
Creating a Better Future for Those in Need
Driven by her deep spiritual beliefs, she started an inspiring nonprofit organization, YOUtopian Estates dedicated to providing housing and support for people experiencing homelessness.
“The organization’s name symbolizes a peaceful and heavenly place, emphasizing individual peace and a community of Zen,” explains Terrell.
Its first campus, located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, is aimed to house up to 600 individuals, prioritizing vulnerable populations like veterans, pregnant women, families and those identifying as LGBTQIA.
Believing that everyone has a preordained purpose, she saw her mission in life as fulfilling her duty to help the homeless. Witnessing the positive impact of her leadership and loving energy on her supervisees further solidified her commitment to inspiring and connecting with others.
Though she never saw herself as an entrepreneur, a profound desire to change the stigma surrounding homelessness and foster kindness led her to create YOUtopian Estates. She sought to challenge the misconception that all homeless individuals are lazy or dangerous and instead aimed to promote a compassionate approach for everyone.
YOUtopian Estates took a holistic approach, not only providing housing but also focusing on inner and exterior wellness.
“Our goal is to inspire residents to be the best versions of themselves and to live life to the fullest, not merely surviving but thriving together as a community.”
Horned Frog for Life
As Terrell embarked on this fulfilling journey, she always remembered the people who played essential roles in her life. She gave special recognition to Timeka Gordon, director of inclusiveness and intercultural services and community scholars program, and Darron Turner, TCU’s first chief inclusion officer.
“Without their support, I wouldn’t have been at TCU,” recalls Terrell.
The Community Scholars program provided her with the discipline and opportunity to excel, and she proudly represented the department of social work in various national teams.
As an entrepreneur, she found freedom in her schedule and the ability to pursue what she loved, never wanting to be confined to a traditional job or boss again.
To aspiring health care entrepreneurs, Terrell says to “take calculated risks and trust God.” She encourages them to stay committed and to align their actions with their goals. “Believe that you can do it and you are already halfway there. Do not waver, for the reward is greater than you could ever imagine!”