The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) today announced the selection of its 2014-15 class of Chicago Schweitzer Fellows — 31 graduate students who will spend the next year working to address barriers that impact the health of underserved communties, 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.
“Schweitzer Fellowships change lives, both of the individual Fellows as well as those of the many vulnerable community members they serve through their Fellowship projects,” said Ray Wang, Program Director of the Schweitzer Fellowship program of Chicago. “Our Fellows learn to lead and innovate as they tackle complex health needs—skills they will use again and again throughout their professional careers. Meanwhile, their project participants learn information, skills, and behaviors that will assist them in leading healthier lives.”
Schweitzer Fellows develop and direct innovative service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, projects that are separate and in addition to their existing 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, including mindfulness practice for women preparing to re-enter their communities after a period of incarceration; ESL classes to recent immigrants that incorporate information about diabetes and hypertension; oral health awareness; and using art to teach healthy habits to teens.
“Long hours of studying coupled with intense course work can dampen the enthusiasm of even the most idealistic health sciences students. Fortunately, the Schweitzer Fellowship is there to help preserve their intentions to make a difference in the lives of those who need it most,” said Dr. Steven K. Rothschild, a member of the Chicago Schweitzer Advisory Council, a faculty member at Rush Medical College, and a practicing family physician. “By working together over the course of their Fellowship year, Schweitzer students strengthen their values of humanism, empathy, and altruism. The Schweitzer Fellowship builds a commitment to a lifetime of service, and our society is better off for that.”
Dr. Kevin Osten-Garner, a member of the Chicago Schweitzer Advisory Council and faculty at the Adler School of Professional Psychology, added: “With the service model of healthcare delivery transforming from professionals who operated in silos, to one of inter-professional, collaborative care, the Schweitzer Fellowship is a vital program that allows students from a multitude of disciplines this real world experience in inter-professional communication, learning, and service delivery.”
The 31 Chicago Fellows will be among approximately 220 other 2014-15 Schweitzer Fellows working at 12 program sites, 11 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 2014-15 Chicago Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of nearly 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.
“When I first became involved with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship in 2012, I had no idea how influential it would be in connecting my career goals with my commitment to service and health equity for all. What started out as a desire to contribute something more to my local communities, evolved into a long-lasting interprofessional network of ‘hopeful ambassadors’ with a similar mission for justice and well-being. This network keeps me striving towards my ideals,” said And Melody Cibock, a Chicago Fellow for Life (2012-13) who recently participated in interviewing and selecting candidates for this year’s class. “The Fellowship has seen me through a transition from volunteer at the Arts of Life intentional community, to a role as the nurse for L’Arche, a faith-based Community Integrated Living Arrangement for adults with and without developmental disabilities in Chicago. Maintaining a relationship with the Fellowship keeps my ideals at the forefront of my work and reminds me why I actively choose this path every day.”
Since 1996, 495 Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows have contributed over 99,000 hours of community service. The Chicago Schweitzer Fellows Program is generously supported by local donors including the Baxter International Foundation, the VNA Foundation, Michael Reese Health Trust, the Polk Bros Foundation, area medical schools, and many individual donors. It is administered by Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, a Chicago based non-profit working to improve the health of all people in Illinois by promoting health equity.
2014-15 Chicago Schweitzer Fellows
Harlean Ahuja, Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine
Ahuja proposes to initiate “Right from the Start,” an interdisciplinary health curriculum for low income elementary school students living in the western suburbs. She will provide interactive workshops to educate children on the importance of making and implementing healthy lifestyle choices and encourage them to actively begin developing healthy lifelong habits.
Community Site: TBA
Kelli Bosak, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration
Bosak plans to work with women in the process of community re-entry or in residential programs. She will lead a weekly yoga and mindfulness group to aid them in their stress reduction, health education, and empowerment.
Community Site: Cook County Sheriff Women’s Justice Program
Eddie D. Burks, Loyola University Chicago, Community Counseling Program
Burks will initiate a psycho-education support group to assist LGBTQ youth. His program will provide skills to help with positive development of self-esteem and acceptance of sexual orientation, and coping skills to deal with mental health related issues in relation to their sexual orientation.
Community Site: Uhlich Children Advantage Network (UCAN)
Autumn Burnes, Rush University, Rush Medical College
Burnes proposes to teach adult English as a Second Language to Hispanic immigrants in Pilsen. The classes will emphasize health literacy on topics such as diabetes and hypertension and help connect participants to health resources in the community.
Community Site: Lincoln United Methodist Church
Rebecca Charles, Chicago-Kent College of Law
Charles will partner with Heartland Health Center to educate immigrant populations on culturally appropriate nutrition intervention for better diabetes control.
Community Site: Heartland Health Center
Megan Dawson, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing
Dawson aims to reduce the emotional isolation, anxiety and stigma that can be experienced by women concerning their reproductive health decisions. She will provide support to patients during procedures, and will also help the Chicago Doula Circle grow its community volunteer program.
Community Site: TBA
Lissa de Castro, DePaul University School of Nursing
De Castro will lead therapeutic workshops in nutrition and group fitness for homeless adults in Lincoln Park. The program will incorporate a fully integrated range of complementary therapies, psychological support, and nutritional and self-help techniques addressing the physical, mental, and emotional needs of the homeless community.
Community Site: Lincoln Park Community Shelter
Laura Douglas, UIC College of Dentistry
Douglas proposes to increase oral health awareness and preventive care among the special needs population at the Arts of Life Studio. She will also incorporate arts activities to engage the community, and to support the studio’s efforts to help individuals with and without developmental disabilities realize their full potential.
Community Site: Arts of Life
Shriya Gandhi, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine
Gandhi proposes to initiate healthy cooking workshops, health topic presentations, and dance fitness classes at Mujeres Latinas en Accion, a support organization for women who have experienced domestic abuse and/or sexual violence. Her events will aim to improve consciousness about preventive health behaviors and healthy exercising habits among the women who are clients of this organization.
Community Site: Mujeres Latinas en Accion
Karla Garcia-Huerta, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
Garcia-Huerta will create Crafting Health, an after-school health education program for teenage youth on the South Side of Chicago. The sessions will aim to address community health needs by educating teens about pertinent health topics and allowing them to process and reflect on them creatively through art.
Community Site: TBA
Adina Goldberger, Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine
Goldberger plans to develop a discussion-based health education program for incarcerated women at the Cook County Jail. She will then train 1st and 2nd year medical students in Northwestern’s Correctional Medicine Coalition to continue this model.
Community Site: Cook County Jail
Audrey Hertenstein, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine
Hertenstein proposes to initiate peer-led health education courses through the Loyola Family Medicine Clinic. These classes will serve as a source of support and empowerment for patients seeking to achieve goals in stress management, diet, and exercise.
Community Site: Loyola Family Medicine Clinic.
Michelle High, Rush University College of Nursing
High proposes to implement an evidence-based parent training program providing health promotion and preventive intervention to low-income, ethnic minority parents of young children. The classes will promote parenting self-efficacy and positive parent-child interactions.
Community Site: TBA
Alescia M. Hollowell, MPH, DePaul University, Community Psychology
Hollowell will partner with KIPP Ascend Middle School to develop and implement culturally-tailored health education workshops for students. The workshops will cover topics including physical health, sexual health, and the social determinants of health, in hopes of encouraging and promoting the development of positive health beliefs and behaviors among students.
Community Site: KIPP Ascend Middle School
Kathryn Huber, Loyola University Chicago School of Law
Huber plans to assist juveniles with eligible criminal records to expunge those records and subsequently apply for college, vocational training, or employment. The program will focus on children who are involved in the child welfare system, and will help to remove a significant barrier to achievement during the critical transition period to adulthood, independence, and self-sufficiency.
Community Site: TBA
Fredrick Kendricks, Argosy University Chicago, Counselor Education
Kendricks will facilitate small discussion groups that empower Black men recently released from correctional institutions. The discussion groups will engage the men in topics concerning: housing resources, employment opportunities, wellness, interpersonal development and good citizenship.
Community Site: EMAGES, Inc.
Kate Kinasz, University of Chicago, Pritzker School of Medicine
Kinasz will work with Girls in the Game, an organization which promotes healthy lifestyles and self-esteem in girls from diverse backgrounds and abilities through exercise and nutrition education. Serving as a coach to help implement the Girls in the Game program, Kate will also work to expand the curriculum to improve the effectiveness of the sessions and introduce obesity and eating disorder lessons.
Community Site: Girls in the Game
Timothy Kosiba, Northern Illinois University, Physical Therapy program
Kosiba will conduct a Rise Up Against Falls program targeting older adults in the DeKalb/Chicagoland communities. With over one third of the older adult population involved in falls each year, Kosiba will provide fall screening and prevention education, and wellness activities to help individuals maintain their independence and improve their quality of life.
Community Site: Northern Illinois University Family, Health, Wellness, and Literacy Center
Nora Mulloy, Midwestern University, Chicago College of Osteopathic Medicine
Mulloy proposes to implement a health education program for pregnant and parenting teens who lack secure housing. The project aims to empower these young families by providing a foundational understanding of basic pediatric illnesses, developmental milestones, parent self-care, parent-child bonding, and resilience techniques.
Community Site: The Night Ministry
Nicole Raucci, DePaul University School of Nursing
Raucci will implement an interactive program to improve the health maintenance of low-income, underserved older adults. The program will consist of health information workshops, individualized goal setting and support, visitor days, and group exercise activities.
Community Site: Japanese American Service Community (JASC)
Farah Shakir, UIC College of Dentistry
Shakir will focus on oral disease prevention within the Iraqi refugee community. She plans to conduct community outreach in Arabic and English to assess and improve the community’s knowledge about oral health, and to address barriers to their receiving oral health care. Working together with Dr. Sheila Raja, an expert in psychological trauma and PTSD, Shakir also hopes to address the underlying mental health issues that impact the community’s overall health.
Community Site: TBA
Padraic Stanley, Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work
Stanley will provide mental health counseling for migrant workers, day laborers, and other undocumented immigrants. He seeks to empower participants and help them cope with the situational stressors and symptomologies developed from living as undocumented.
Community Site: Rincon Family Services
Amanda Suttle, Rosalind Franklin Psychology program
Suttle proposes to improve self-awareness, social and cultural awareness, and health education in underserved teenagers in Lake County. Health education will be provided by students/clinicians from various healthcare professions who reflect the racial make-up of the teenagers, which in turn will serve to empower the youth to be successful minorities.
Community Site: Boys and Girls Club of Lake County
Josh Taylor, University of Illinois – Chicago Urban Planning and Policy
Taylor will expand a new mentoring program for male high school students in Englewood. “The Noble Nine” Program’s curriculum will aim to empower the young men to pursue leadership roles, use their strengths to support their school and neighborhoods, develop an interest in service, and cultivate passion for the long-term health and wellness of their communities. In its inaugural year, the students succeeded with using their strengths to develop a community garden. This year, the students will organize a similar service project in their neighborhood community.
Community Site: Johnson College Prep
Jane Thomason, UIC School of Public Health
Thomason proposes to facilitate support groups for home care workers. These support groups aim to mediate the occupational stress caused by the unpredictability, lack of support, and minimal training in their workplaces.
Community Site: TBA
Joanna Villacorta, University of Chicago, School of Social Service Administration
Villacorta will empower 8th grade girls to make informed health and social choices by implementing a girls’ sexual education and social skills course at a Chicago elementary school. The course will prepare the girls for high school by instilling goal-setting skills and building healthy self-esteem.
Community Site: TBA
Amy Wang, Rush University College of Medicine
Wang proposes to design and teach a discussions based seminar focused on chronic illnesses in the Chicago community and plan hands-on interdisciplinary events at Rush University for students at Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School. The overarching goal of the project is to boost engagement and investment in students who are training to go into professions in the medical field.
Community Site: Richard T. Crane Medical Preparatory High School
Michael Wilcox, Chicago State University College of Pharmacy
Wilcox plans to expand services aimed at improving the overall health and well-being of LGBTQ identified senior citizens. His project will promote health literacy, social support, wellness practices, and other resources tailored to Chicago’s LGBTQ senior citizens.
Community Site: Howard Brown Health Center
Sonia Wisniewski, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Nursing
Wisniewski proposes to initiate support groups for mental health patients and their families in the Southside of Chicago. These groups will act as a support structure in communities where city mental health clinics have closed.
Community Site: TBA
Liweza Yalda, Roosevelt University College of Pharmacy
Yalda proposes to initiate Diabetes Educational Workshops for geriatric patients with language and cultural barriers at the Assyrian American Community Pharmacy in Skokie. She will provide workshops and patient education in Assyrian at the pharmacy’s new Diabetes Clinic with the aim of improving patients’ comprehension of their disease and their managing it for better outcomes.
Community Site: Assyrian American Community Pharmacy
Lala Young, Rush University, Rush Medical College
Young seeks to improve the mental and emotional health of formerly homeless women in a permanent housing facility on the west side of Chicago. A majority of the women (68%) are dealing with depression and many are survivors of traumatic experiences. Her ideas will take shape as she gets to know the women, but she envisions providing them with opportunities for self-reflection, creative expression, and self-care tailored to their interests and needs.
Community Site: Facing Forward to End Homelessness
About The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is improving the health of vulnerable people now and for the future by developing a corps of Leaders in Service—professionals skilled in creating positive change with and in our communities, our health and human service systems, and our world.
Through community-based, mentored direct service and a multidisciplinary, reflective leadership development program, ASF is building community capacity and training a professional workforce that is:
• skilled in addressing the underlying causes of health inequities;
• committed to improving the health outcomes of underserved communities; and
• prepared for a life of continued service.
To date, nearly 3,000 Schweitzer Fellows have delivered nearly 500,000 hours of service to nearly 300,000 people in need. Additionally, more than 100 Fellows have provided care at the 100-year-old Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Africa. Through this work and through the contributions of Fellows whose professional careers serve their communities, ASF perpetuates the legacy and philosophy of physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. ASF has 12 program locations in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa. Its national office is located in Boston, MA and hosted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.