Health & Medicine Welcomes 2021-22 Schweitzer Fellows - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

Connect & Follow Us

Health & Medicine Policy Research Group Logo

Go Back

Health & Medicine Welcomes 2021-22 Schweitzer Fellows

June 23, 2021

Twenty-eight passionate health professions graduate students have been selected for the distinguished Schweitzer Fellowship, a year-long service-learning program that helps Fellows design and implement innovative projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.

Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages students to become lifelong leaders in service by helping to address unmet health needs among vulnerable Chicagoland residents. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each Schweitzer Fellow will launch a community-based project, providing 200 hours of service. Using a broad public health lens, the new Fellows will work to improve community well-being and target the social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that have a profound impact on health and quality of life. Projects include:

  • Interactive workshops addressing COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy, mental well-being, and preventative health education in conjunction with the Middle Eastern Immigrant and Refugee Alliance (MIRA).
  • A mentorship program providing STEM enrichment, lessons on health equity and biomedical sciences, and longitudinal mentorship for disadvantaged students from underrepresented backgrounds on Chicago’s South and West Sides.
  • A music workshop and women’s choir at Sarah’s Circle, a women’s shelter, to encourage creative expression and community building and provide a source of stability during uncertain times.

Click here to learn more about the Fellows and their service projects.

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, the Fellowship exposes students to real-world, inter-professional, collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service. The 2021-22 Fellows include students from 10 schools and 8 academic programs, ranging from nursing to disability studies and public health. The exceptional class of Fellows was selected from a pool of almost 100 applicants through a competitive process.

“Tackling the public health issues that face marginalized and historically disenfranchised communities is a task not suited to one field, but to a collective of fields and practices that champion social justice ideology,” said Symphony Fletcher. “I applied to the Schweitzer Fellowship because as a future physician and health advocate I understand that the physical manifestations of my patients’ illnesses will not be purely corporeal but social, psychological, and environmental. Through working with an interdisciplinary team from several fields, I believe Schweitzer will be integral in helping me prepare to more holistically serve my patients.”

In addition to their service projects, the fellows will also participate in a thirteen-month program that includes monthly meetings, trainings, and ongoing opportunities for interdisciplinary collaboration. They will also work with a team of mentors from their schools and project sites as well as mentors from our alumni network and the Schweitzer Fellowship Advisory Council, which oversees the program.

“As a community dentist at a ‘safety net clinic,’ I see firsthand that many of my patients are struggling not only with accessing health care, but also with being able to afford to make healthy decisions such as safe housing and choosing nutritious food. Schweitzer Fellows think holistically about what makes a person healthy and their projects often address the ‘upstream’ factors that dramatically affect people’s well-being and health outcomes,” said Sodabeh Etminan, DMD, MPH, Dental Director for Mile Square Health Center and a Schweitzer alumna and member of the Advisory Council. “Whether they are tutoring kids in school or helping people with chronic diseases better understand how to maintain their health, Schweitzer Fellows are infusing their ideas and energy in communities that are lacking resources and all too often overlooked. The Fellowship helps strengthen the skills and confidence of these young idealists to become lifelong leaders in service.”

The new Fellows join a network of nearly 700 Chicago Program alumni who have provided over 120,000 hours of community service to more than 150 community groups over the course of the Program’s twenty five year history.

“Every year, our Schweitzer Fellows help Health & Medicine live out our mission of addressing health inequities and supporting the next generation of healthcare providers,” said Margie Schaps, Executive Director of Health & Medicine. “This sort of community impact is only possible through the steadfast commitment of the many individuals, academic institutions, and local foundations that support this program including the Baxter International Foundation, the Michael Reese Health Trust, the VNA Foundation, and the Blowitz-Ridgeway Foundation. We are deeply grateful for their generosity as we welcome this dynamic group of Fellows to the Schweitzer community.”