I’m not in a clinical or health-related program, but I am interested in tying my field in to improving the health and wellbeing of communities. Am I eligible?
Yes, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is an interdisciplinary program and we are looking for applicants from any field in which the Fellow can create a health-related community project. Diversity of thought and perspectives will enrich the experience for each class of Fellows. Other fields of study have included dentistry, law, divinity, psychology, pharmacy, engineering, business, the arts, and more. We think expansively about health and realize that there are many factors that contribute to the health and well-being of our communities.
What health-related topic should I address?
Schweitzer Fellows focus on health as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO): a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. Rooted in this holistic understanding of health, Schweitzer projects address not only clinical health issues, but also the social determinants of health—defined by the WHO as the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work and age, and which are mostly responsible for health inequities. The options are broad to allow your interests and creativity to lead you to a project that will have impact.
Where can I get some ideas about projects other Fellows have done?
You can find a list of the first class of DFW Schweitzer Fellows and their projects here. For more ideas, take a look at U.S. Fellows page on the national website, and click any of the cities listed, then “Fellows & Projects,” and read the project descriptions. The Beyond Boulders blog is another great resource for reading more about current and past Schweitzer projects.
What exactly do you mean by an “underserved” population? How do I know which community to work with?
“Underserved” is any group that is at risk for or experiencing compromised health or physical, social, or emotional well-being. Any group of people that you can conceive of who has difficulty receiving quality health care and other needs that impact their health and well-being could be considered underserved.
What exactly do you mean by “direct service”?
“Direct service” means working directly with any group who is at risk for or experiencing compromised health or physical, social, or emotional well-being and interacting in some way with individuals in that group. Examples include providing health information workshops, leading a fitness class, tutoring, providing screening exams at a health fair, or linking residents to needed services. Research, fundraising and policy-based projects are not considered eligible. Each project entails different amounts of planning, but you should complete 120-150 hours of direct service, allowing for 50-80 hours of administrative time for project planning.
When do I have to complete my 200 hours of service?
You can complete your 200 hours of service at any time from April 1 to March 31. Some Fellows start their hours during the summer, while some don’t start until autumn. Some Fellows complete all of their hours in a couple of months and some spread them out over the entire year. It is up to you and what your project entails. We do encourage spreading the hours as much as possible to have enough time to overcome any unforeseen roadblocks or delays.
I notice that some students at other sites have done their projects with another student. Will this be an option?
Yes, but infrequently and with a few caveats. First, more will be expected from the projects; that is, there would be an expectation for greater or more durable impact. If you partner with another student, you both must fulfill all the program requirements and participate in all of the fellowship activities.
Is the orientation retreat really mandatory? What if I already have obligations for that weekend?
Yes, the orientation is a firm requirement. If you already know you cannot make it, please do not apply for the Fellowship.
How about these monthly meetings, am I expected to attend all of them?
A hallmark of the Schweitzer Fellows Program is the regular contact with other Fellows from disparate fields and opportunities for leadership development that accrue from exposure to distinguished speakers who will give presentations at the meeting. The monthly meetings reinforce the rapport established at Orientation and provide opportunities for Fellows to acquire leadership skills and feedback from their peers concerning their projects. Participation in monthly meetings is mandatory.
I have never really done something like this before. Does that lower my chances for getting the Fellowship?
The Fellowship experience is an important opportunity for learning, whether someone has already done a lot of community work or very little. Experience is not a requirement for the Fellowship, but in your personal statement we’d like for you to explain how your background and skills have helped prepare you to do community outreach work, and what motivates you to make such a serious commitment. The Program’s mentors and Program staff provide ample support to Fellows so that everyone who is passionate about providing service can do so.
I have an internship requirement for my school. Can I use the Schweitzer Fellowship to help fulfill this requirement?
No, we do not allow Fellows to use their Schweitzer project for credit within their curriculum. The Fellowship is really meant to be an added component to your educational experience that enables you to develop your abilities as a leader in service. The Fellowship is an opportunity to complete a community service project and to become part of a community of Fellows who are dedicated to similar work and hold similar values.
Although it may take a lot of time to participate in both the Fellowship and your school internship or practicum, it is a very enriching and rewarding experience to be part of the Fellowship separate from your academic requirements. It’s your opportunity to follow your passion.
Dallas-Fort Worth Schweitzer Fellows Program
Southern Methodist University
P.O. Box 750235
Dallas TX 75275-0235