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Fellows Fest

Aug 15, 2023

Each year, 28 exceptional Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows design and implement year-long projects to address a variety of urgent health needs facing Chicago’s underserved communities. Fellows develop the skills and confidence to become Leaders in Service — professionals who will remain dedicated to public service and creating change. As our 2023-2024 Fellows work with their community sites to implement these projects, many anticipate expenses that are not funded by another source. Fellows Fest is a crowd sourced fundraiser that provides the opportunity for family, friends, and the community to support their service projects.

Not sure which Fellow to support? General donations will be dispersed evenly among our Fellows.

Syeda Akila Ally, a University of Illinois (UIC) Doctor of Medicine student, proposes to create culturally affirming nutrition and health education classes for immigrant women and older adults at the Indo American Center, a community organization in Devon (West Ridge). Akila’s project aims to dispel myths about chronic diseases and provide resources on preventative health and wellness. In addition, she hopes to bolster social support and community connections through storytelling circles, creative activities, chai chats, and biannual cooking classes. She will include content in Hindu, Urdu, and Bengali to foster a sense of belonging. Akila seeks to raise $700 for two cooking classes that will incorporate nutritious twists on cultural comfort foods, as well as $150 for tea supplies, and $150 for art supplies and scrapbooking materials. Goal: $500

Karyn Byrne, a PhD Candidate in Community Psychology at National Louis University, is creating a perinatal psychoeducation/ support group focused on promoting mental health and wellness. This group will focus on women reconnecting with their postpartum bodies and regaining a sense of identity. Karyn has partnered with NAMI DuPage to arrange a free group twice per week, designed to serve uninsured and underinsured women in DuPage County and to ultimately prevent or mitigate the development of conditions such as postpartum depression, severe anxiety, and postpartum depletion. Karyn seeks to raise $430 for printing of marketing materials, high protein snacks and waters for participants, and emergency supplies of diapers, wipes, and/or a change of infant clothes in case a mother has run out of these in the group. Goal: $430

Ivana Chmielewski, a North Park University School of Nursing student, proposes to create health education workshops and activities, with a focus on mental health, for refugee and immigrants in the Albany Park neighborhood of Chicago and surrounding areas. She will be partnering with several organizations in addition to Swedish Hospital to implement these workshops. Ivana seeks to raise $700 for supplies including CTA Transportation passes (1-3 day unlimited) for participants, refreshments, supplies for activities such as paper, copies, signs, and gift cards to the grocery store. Goal: $700

Sydney Cush is a second-year medical student at Northwestern School of Medicine. She is partnering with Cook County Health to propose a project meant to not only educate black women about endometriosis and other chronic pelvic pain conditions but also to provide them with tools and techniques to help alleviate symptoms outside of medical and surgical therapies. Sydney hopes that this will encourage more patient participation and promote total physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness in the black community. She seeks to raise a total of $500 to cover snacks, and supplies for interactive exercise and lifestyle-related activities (yoga mats, creating sleep hygiene kits, etc.). Goal: $500

Celeste Guzman, a student pharmacist at the University of Illinois Chicago College of Pharmacy, aims to introduce essential mental health classes tailored for underrepresented high school students in the Medicina Academy Apprentice Program at UIC’s Hispanic Center of Excellence. The thoughtfully crafted curriculum is designed to empower these students with invaluable knowledge, skills, and resources, enabling them to effectively support and nurture their mental health literacy and overall well-being. To enhance the learning experience, Celeste is seeking funding support of $320 to provide personalized journals for each student, and an additional $5600 for a yearly subscription to a guided meditation and relaxation app, ensuring a comprehensive and enriching educational journey for the students. By nurturing mental health awareness and wellness among underprivileged communities, Celeste’s initiative strives to make a lasting positive impact on their lives. Goal: $5920

Leah Hoeniges, a master’s Nursing Student at Rush University, plans to work with Equal Hope Chicago to develop and implement health literacy courses on Chicago’s South Side. Her initiative will promote education related to gynecologic cancer screenings, including identifying and alleviating barriers to care. Leah seeks to raise $500, hoping to use the funds for food and venue costs, and in turn promoting turnout to her events. Goal: $500

Kai Holder, a medicine and public health student at Northwestern, proposes to create a psychoeducational parent readiness educational program for young pregnant individuals. She is partnering with the Sokana Collective, which is an organization that focuses on birth and reproductive justice. Kai seeks to raise $250 for care packages for the parents, materials for seminar sessions and funds for a community baby shower. Goal: $250

Chinasa Imo, a rising 2nd year Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Works, is working to reduce the disparity in access to care for women and youth facing any form of abuse/violence in Southside Chicago, Illinois. Chinasa is partnering with Family Rescue Chicago and the Vineyard Church, Hyde Park, to create a safe space support program where people facing abuse receive wrap-around, tailored support to help them overcome their vulnerabilities. The support program will be a safe space for healing and recovery; by working together with targets of abuse, we will establish a system for identifying their strength, regaining their voice and becoming empowered to forge resilient upward-lifting pathways for themselves. Chinasa seeks to raise $250 to cover the cost of obtaining the Illinois Domestic Violence Certification and $800 to cover support group meeting session logistics and transport support for some participants to complete their sessions without interruptions associated with a lack of funding for transportation. Goal: $1050

Julia Kavanagh, a medical student at Midwestern University, hopes to help combat early health disadvantages and improve health literacy of Chicago’s foster care youth. Her project partners with the LYDIA Home, a foster group home in the northwestern part of Chicago. She will be holding weekly sessions with the children and plans to teach about various aspects of health and well-being – both physical and mental. Julia is hoping to raise $500 for arts & crafts supplies and healthy snacks for the children to have during her sessions. Goal: $500

Ruth Londono Alzate, a medical student at the Chicago Medical School at Rosalind Fraklin School of Medicine and Science, proposes to create a leadership and mental health development program called “Empower.” She envisions working with youth from Zion Benton Township High School. This program has been a dream ever since she graduated this institution in 2013. Today, she can bring to her former school a program that will support 10 to 20 at risk minority students in developing personal skills to tackle the challenges that come in the transition from high school to a career. Empower will provide knowledge, tools, and resources that will help them achieve their career goals and be able to care for their mental health. Ruth seeks to raise $500 for leadership books and didactic materials for her workshops. Goal: $500

Tyler Linder, a Medical Student at Rush University, has created a program to educate adolescents on the south side of Chicago through Project Swish Chicago. The program seeks to educate the kids on the importance of health while relating to basketball to incorporate a more substantial relationship in the community while promoting mental, physical, and emotional health. Currently, in partnership with Project Swish, the organization will assist the Chicago Public School system and host weekend events. A curriculum has been created that incorporates several activities for students; some of these activities require supplies to which Tyler seeks to raise $500 for miscellaneous supplies such as ACE wraps for practicing RICE, snacks for easy and healthy diet days, and other items that may become necessary later. Goal: $500

Jacque Lueken, a Loyola University Chicago Master of Social Work student, proposes to utilize expressive arts as she facilitates peer support groups for Caregivers and Supporters of loved ones who have been diagnosed with cancer at Wellness House and Cancer Wellness Center. These groups will provide a space for those who are often the last to ask for help or support the opportunity to decrease their stress and anxiety; as well as cultivate a community where participants will make connections, be able to share their hardships and experiences, and find a much needed reprieve from being the “one leaned on” in order to allow them to continue to be there fully for their loved ones. Jacque seeks to raise $800 for expressive arts supplies and $400 for refreshments. If you have any questions or would like to contact Jacque directly, please feel free to email her at jlueken@luc.edu. Goal: $1200

Paige Madden, a current DMD/MPH student at Midwestern University, has developed the project titled “The Senior Series,” which is dedicated to enhancing oral health literacy among the senior population residing in the Chicago suburbs. Through an engaging and informative oral health lecture series, her aim is to foster a sense of ease when it comes to dental terminology, navigating the complexities of dental insurance, and discovering accessible and affordable dental care options within the community. By providing valuable knowledge and empowering seniors, she strives to improve senior oral health outcomes and overall well-being. Paige seeks to raise $300 for printed materials and hand-outs to give to participants as well as for small prizes to encourage participation in games. Goal: $300

Simon Park is currently a medical student at Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine. The objective of the Schweitzer project focuses on the development of a healthcare self-advocacy program for adults with blind and visual impairments. In collaboration with the Friedman Place in the Northwest side of Chicago, Simon will lead a 7-week healthcare advocacy program to teach residents how to become a better advocate for their health and well-being. The funds will be used to support attendance and participation through six $50 gift cards for those achieving > 70% attendance rate, $100 for snacks/drinks, and $100 for residents giving the best-presentation award at the last session. Thank you for your consideration. Goal: $500

Evan Patel, a Rush Medical College student, is in the process of creating a hybrid model otolaryngology specialty clinic for Chicago’s homeless population – the first of its kind. Bimonthly, patients are provided with free transportation to Rush Medical Center, where they receive a free dinner and healthcare evaluation by an otolaryngology and audiology team. On the other two weeks of the month, medical student volunteers visit the shelters to facilitate telemedicine encounters with the physician. Medications, testing, and surgical intervention are all free of charge. Evan seeks to raise $500 for transportation and medical equipment to keep the clinics running. Goal: $500

Fatima Rasoul, a Loyola University Chicago School of Social Work MSW student, proposes to create a psychoeducational support group for refugee mothers at World Relief Chicagoland, an international refugee resettlement agency. She envisions developing a culturally congruent curriculum to provide refugee mothers with knowledge, resources, and support for their mental health as they integrate into their lives in the U.S. The groups will likely be eight weeks long and is intended to promote maternal and child mental health, because mothers mental and physical health directly impacts children’s health. Fatima seeks to raise $1000 to fund care packages and needs of women as they participate in the group. We are looking to provide diapers and other childcare products, thrift store vouchers, and mindfulness tools for the participants. Goal: $1000

Ambika Seshadri, a nursing student at DePaul University, proposes to create support groups that help pregnant women and their families in collaboration with Chicago Family Health Center. She will be working with community members to develop support resources that address local community needs, such as bereavement services for families who have suffered the loss of a pregnancy or infant. The sessions will provide families with peer support as well as valuable referrals to available community resources. Ambika seeks to raise $750 to provide nutritious food at focus group and support group sessions, as well as provide incentives to encourage the participation of community members. Goal: $750

Not sure which Fellow to support? General donations will be dispersed evenly among our Fellows.