16 Graduate Students Will Spend Next Year Improving Community Health and Developing Lifelong Leadership Skills
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its 2015-16 class of Boston Schweitzer Fellows―16 graduate students who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.
“Despite the demands of graduate programs, Albert Schweitzer Fellows are committed to service and to tackling complex health needs,” said Lisa Peterson, SM, Program Director of the Boston chapter of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “It is particularly special that this new class of Fellows has been selected during the 75th anniversary year of the founding of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. Our program is dedicated to improving the health of communities by preparing health and human service professionals to serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives. We’re very excited to see what these Fellows are able to accomplish not just over the next year, but in the years to come as they establish themselves professionally.”
Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health inequities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. This year’s Fellows will address an array of health issues affecting a range of populations, from oral health education programs in Greater Lawrence and Boston’s Chinatown to a program addressing food insecurity for patients of a Worcester health clinic. Fellows come from a range of academic disciplines—medicine, physical therapy, dentistry, pharmacy, and other allied health fields.
The Fellowship’s approach delivers a lasting impact as our Fellows improve the lives of those they are serving directly, and share the lessons with friends and family that they learn from the populations they are serving.
Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component, so that Fellows can go on to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care and resources. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.
“These Schweitzer Fellows are the next generation of leaders in the health care field and allied disciplines,” said Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, Executive Director of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Their Fellowship year will help prepare them to successfully face the difficult task of eliminating health inequities and ensure that underserved people have access to quality, comprehensive health care.”
The 16 Boston Fellows will join approximately 220 other 2015-16 Schweitzer Fellows working at 13 program sites, 12 in the US and one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2015-16 Boston Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. Fellows for Life routinely report that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serving people in need.
Boston Fellows have contributed nearly 100,000 hours of service since 1992 to vulnerable populations in Massachusetts. The program is hosted and sponsored by Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center. Other sponsors have included Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, Boston University School of Public Health, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, DentaQuest Foundation, Eastern Bank Foundation, Harvard Medical School, Massachusetts Medical Society and Alliance Charitable Foundation, New England College of Optometry, Novo Nordisk, Tufts University, and Walgreens. More information is available at SchweitzerFellowship.org/Boston
2015-16 Boston Albert Schweitzer Fellows
Amanda M. Alon, Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine
Alon is addressing oral health inequities by creating an education program for early intervention in childhood caries in low income populations in the Greater Lawrence area. The program will teach parents, caretakers, and children the importance of at-home care as well as provider care. The program aims to improve the oral health of the area as well as inspire the youth to make a difference in their community. She hopes to take small steps in order to make a big difference for an at-risk community.
Community Site: Greater Lawrence Community Action Council Child Care Center
Risha M. De Leon, Tufts University School of Dental Medicine & Tufts University School of Medicine Public Health and Professional Degree Programs
De Leon is addressing oral health inequities among Asian American immigrant families in Boston Chinatown by developing a comprehensive oral health program at ABCD Chinese Church Head Start. The program addresses three audiences: educators, parents, and children. Focus group discussions will address concerns and evaluation of needs assessment between the program directors, educators and parents. An oral health education program will reinforce brushing techniques, dental myths, best practices, diet counseling, resource availability and the importance of the age 1 dental visit.
Community Site: ABCD Chinese Church Head Start
Malika Hodge, Tufts University School of Medicine Public Health and Professional Degree Programs
Hodge will be addressing the lack of minority representation within the health and wellness career fields, specifically in the field of dietetics. The program will focus on educating Boston Public high school and middle school youth about the importance of nutrition and nutrition related careers by designing workshops and networking events for youth where youth will have the opportunity to meet health care professionals of color in the health and wellness fields. In addition, youth participants will acquire professionalism and academic planning skills that will help them to understand and build social capital.
Community Site: Boston Area Health Education Center
Joshua Kolikof, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Kolikof is addressing tobacco use in Worcester County by establishing a tobacco treatment program for Latino men who are recovering from substance abuse. In addition to providing direct person to person counseling, the program will incorporate group educational discussions about the health risks associated with tobacco use.
Community Site: The Hector Reyes House.
Anvita Kulkarni, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
Kulkarni is addressing the health of women and girls at the YWCA in Cambridge by working to understand residents’ health needs and how organizational services can best meet these needs. Specifically, Kulkarni will be conducting an initial needs assessment and supporting existing health programming for women of color, both with the focus on creating safe spaces where women can have a dialogue and access health resources and information. More broadly, Kulkarni will also be exploring how the organization can build coalitions and adopt an incubator model in its vision of eliminating racism and empowering women.
Community Site: YWCA Cambridge
Jennifer Lettsome, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Master of Science in Nursing program
Lettsome is addressing the prevalence of unsafe sex practices for Black and Latina women and their partners in Boston, MA. She will provide workshops that will include sharing the responsibility of making sexual health choices, negotiating skills around relationships and condom usage, and positive messages around the female condom. In addition, Lettsome will address the stigma attached to these conversations in communities of color through the implementation of creative outreach programs in non-traditional environments such as fashion shows, basketball games, natural hair meet-ups and other social events. In addition to empowering Black and Latina women and their partners to share responsibility of making sexual health choices; Lettsome hopes her participants will leave feeling better able to talk about safe sex between partners.
Community Site: Boston ABCD Health Services
Brandon Morgan, Tufts University, Friedman School of Nutrition and Policy
Morgan is addressing various health outcomes in young adults in downtown Boston by creating an educational program that provides both nutrition education and continuing education preparation in a technical academy. These students will be exposed to both upstream and downstream factors of health through various interactive workshops. This educational program intends to affect health outcomes by addressing four different levels: the environment, social and economic factors, clinical care, and health behaviors.
Community Site: Boston Adult Technical Academy
Adrianna Nava, University of Massachusetts Boston
Nava is addressing health inequities among the Boston Hispanic community by focusing on increasing the diversity of the nursing workforce. Hispanics make up less than 4% of the nursing workforce nationwide, which when compared to the proportion of the U.S. population who self-report Hispanic ethnicity (17%), demonstrates the under-representation of Hispanic individuals in nursing. Nava will work with the National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Boston Chapter to develop a mentorship program which builds leadership and interpersonal skills among Hispanic students interested in a career in nursing. It will be a two-tiered program, incorporating Boston High School students and Registered Nurses who are members of NAHN Boston. The overall goal of this project is to mentor the next generation of Hispanic nurses, so with time, they will be the healthcare leaders serving the communities of tomorrow.
Community Site: National Association of Hispanic Nurses (NAHN) Massachusetts “Boston” Chapter
Blair Robinson, University of Massachusetts School of Medicine
Robinson is addressing food insecurity in a Worcester family health clinic by increasing patient access to healthy vegetables through a summer farm-stand distribution at the clinic. She will also work with providers to develop and implement a food insecurity intervention. The ultimate goal of the project is to encourage provider-patient conversations about food status and increase patient access to year-round healthy food resources.
Community Site: Worcester Family Health Center
Antonio Shallowhorn, Tufts University School of Medicine Public Health and Professional Degree Programs
Shallowhorn is working with young men who attend Brookline High School from low-income families. He is forming a mentorship program where students will engage in personal and professional development activities that will empower them to think critically about the world around them and their future. An emphasis will be placed on education and careers in public health as sustainable paths to a more promising future. As a result of this space, the young men will cultivate a sense of community, self-empowerment, and urgency as well as develop an interest for public health and social justice issues.
Community Site: Steps to Success Brookline
Kristin M. Smith, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Doctor of Physical Therapy program
Smith is addressing the lack of inclusive recreational opportunities for children with disabilities in greater Boston by establishing a youth adaptive climbing program at Brooklyn Boulders (BKB) in Somerville, MA. In addition to encouraging youth attendance at weekly adaptive climbing clinics, the program will integrate adaptive climbers into BKB youth programs, Kid’s Academy, and Adventure Days. Ultimately, the program aims to benefit its participants by reducing isolation, fostering healthy habits and attitudes towards physical activities, developing positive social skills, and building self-confidence. The program will also benefit the greater climbing community by promoting awareness of capabilities of individuals with disabilities.
Community site: Brooklyn Boulders, Somerville, MA
Aline Souza, Boston University School of Medicine, Physician Assistant Program
Souza is working to increase awareness about chronic cardiac conditions through Healthy Hearts wellness groups with homeless individuals of Boston. These groups will provide a collaborative environment with stress relieving exercises and educational activities. Souza will also address health education in this community by holding individual sessions for those interested in learning more about how to care for your heart and maintain a good quality of life when faced with the obstacles of homelessness. The goals of the project are to increase awareness, improve medication compliance, and allow individuals from an underserved community to come together and take ownership of their health.
Community Site: Boston Healthcare for the Homeless
Gianna Wilkie, University of Massachusetts Medical School
Wilkie is working with adolescent mothers who are residents at the Florence House in Worcester, Massachusetts. The Florence House is a residential program that provides housing and support for teenaged mothers as they adjust to their new lives as parents. The program will encompass a weekly curriculum focusing on important health topics like contraception, sexually transmitted infections, and healthy relationships. In addition to health topics, important parenting topics like conflict resolution, discipline, limit setting, and infant safety will also be covered. Through the series of twelve health- and parenting-related workshops, young mothers will feel empowered to make safe decisions about their bodies as well as their parenting styles.
Community Site: Florence House
Matthew H. H. Young, Harvard Medical School & Harvard Law School
Young is addressing economic security for persons with disabilities in Greater Boston by helping to provide medical substantiation and legal representation for individuals with complex medical and mental health problems who qualify for but are facing a denial or termination of their Supplemental Security Income or Social Security Disability Insurance claim for disability benefits. He hopes to harness his medical and legal training to help clients overcome multiple system barriers, including insufficient documentation from medical providers and a lack of representation during the Administrative Law Judge hearings, and ultimately help clients with disabilities secure financial stability and access to health care.
Community Site: Greater Boston Legal Services
Hayley Younkin, MGH Institute of Health Professions, Doctor of Occupational Therapy program
Younkin is addressing the mental health needs and social-emotional wellbeing of children who have experienced trauma or witnessed violence and are currently residing in a short-term crisis intervention center in Upham’s Corner, Dorchester. She is developing and implementing a program of social-emotional learning groups based on a trauma-informed approach. The program will assist the Bridge Home in helping these children continue to build resiliency and emotional intelligence so that they will feel empowered to develop healthier coping strategies.
Community Site: St. Mary’s Bridge Home
Katie Zheng, Northeastern University, Bouvé College of Health Sciences
Zheng is targeting inequities in health education in Spanish speaking populations. Through workshops and reflection activities, Zheng aims to empower self-care and improve self-efficacy in Hispanic/Latino patients. Zheng also aims to strengthen collaborations between student groups and community institutions, in order to heighten awareness about the impact of social determinants of health on minority and low-income communities.
Community Site: TBD