Health & Medicine Welcomes 2022-2023 Schweitzer Fellows - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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Health & Medicine Welcomes 2022-2023 Schweitzer Fellows

May 26, 2022

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:

  • Assessing socioemotional health of Asian American adolescents at a tutoring center and engaging them in comprehensive sexual health education to empower youth to understand their right to access reproductive health services and give them tools to navigate their relationships and sexuality
  • Initiating art therapy workshops for African American and Latinx high school students enrolled in the Sojourner Scholars program at Illinois Humanities to provide artistic and creative expression of difficult emotions for the youth who have endured traumatic situations
  • Implementing a program preparing incarcerated women at Cook County Jail for a successful return to their communities through exploring local resources and services that can support women in reaching their goals and improving their well-being
  • Creating a youth farming apprenticeship program in Little Village to foster sustained engagement in minority youth on health-justice oriented agriculture, particularly in regards to the growing food sovereignty movement in Chicago

Click here to learn more about the 2022-23 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 2022-23 Fellows include students from 12 schools and 18 academic programs, ranging from nursing to art therapy and public policy. The exceptional class of Fellows was selected from a pool of over 100 applicants through a competitive process.

“A twenty-year life expectancy gap exists in Chicago between underprivileged communities and affluent communities. This gap implies a disparity in the ability to live a flourishing life, which ought to be a goal of the human condition,” says Ashley Aguilar. “I am designing an after school workshop that teaches about objective conceptions of wellbeing such as mental and physical health, as well as more subjective and abstract conceptions of wellbeing like meaning, purpose, character and virtue. I applied to the Schweitzer Fellowship because of the unique opportunity to connect my dedication to addressing inequality with my commitment to understanding the means by which all can realize human flourishing.”

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.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship is a unique community service experience, matching health professions students with community organizations that benefit from the passion these Fellows have to improve the lives of the people they encounter, says Lisa Rosenberg, PhD, RN, Associate Dean of Students at Rush University College of Nursing. “Over the years, and with continued support, the Schweitzer Fellowship is delivering on its promise to provide a life-changing experience to Fellows. Students learn lessons that will transform how and where they deliver care in their professional careers. The unwavering commitment of Fellow after Fellow changes the health of our communities for the better.”

The new Fellows join a network of over 700 Chicago Program alumni (Fellows for Life) 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 health care 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. We are deeply grateful to welcome this dynamic group of Fellows to the Schweitzer community.”