2022-23 Fellows - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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2022-23 Fellows

For more information about this program please contact:

Karol Dean
Program Director, Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship kdean@hmprg.org

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2022-23 Fellows

  • Overview


The 2022-23 Schweitzer Fellows include 28 outstanding students representing 12 schools, 9 disciplines, and 18 academic programs. The Program’s interdisciplinary approach exposes students to real-world inter-professional collaborative care. Each of the 2022-23 Fellows will design and implement year-long projects to address a variety of urgent health needs (including social determinants of health) facing Chicago’s underserved communities.


Elnaz Alimi, University of Illinois at Chicago, Disability Studies

Elnaz proposes to engage in assessment of needs, program design and delivery, and impact on occupational therapy intervention for refugees and asylees, many with disabilities and chronic conditions. Her goal is to promote social participation and occupational engagement.


Tina Barrett, Pacific College of Health and Science, Acupuncture and Herbal Medicine

Tina will educate young African American/Black males beyond the current everyday circumstances of survival, with the goal of changing lifestyle related habits and preventing the outcome of black men being first in mortality rates due to lifestyle related diseases such as CVD, stroke, and cancers.


Isaiah Brown, University of Chicago, Medicine

Isaiah Brown is a first year Medical Student at the University of Chicago Pritzker School of Medicine. Through training barbers as community health workers, starting a Black, Adult free clinic, and developing a culturally relevant health curriculum, he hopes to uplift and support Black men’s health in the Chicago land area.


Nicholas Cooper, DePaul University, Nursing

Nicholas will partner with the Gender Development Program at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago to address readiness for transfer to adult care in transgender youth. He will initiate a fun, interactive health education program aimed at helping current patients of the clinic in preparing themselves to move to adult health care. He will also seek to engage the children’s parents and provide them with health information and resources so that they can prepare for the natural progression of health care transition, and provide resources to aid in this transition.


Cindy Cruz, University of Illinois at Chicago, Nursing

Cindy will develop a series of short and supplemental Un Minuto Conciente (Mindful Minute) presentations focused on mental health care for the pre-diabetic adult participants of Alivio Medical Center’s Prevent T2 program, in order to help them build coping strategies that will facilitate their success in achieving a healthier lifestyle.


Jennifer Cunningham, University of Illinois at Chicago, Nursing

In partnership with Southside Community Center in Peoria, IL, Jennifer will empower individuals by sharing knowledge, tools, and resources that will support them in their journey to achieve and/or maintain the health of their families and themselves. The goal is to begin the work of breaking down barriers to accessing the medical services people need.


Amy De La Torre, University of Illinois, Medicine 

Amy will teach a Mental Health curriculum designed for underrepresented minority students in the Medicina Academy Apprentice Program (MAAP) in the Hispanic Center of Excellence at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The goal is to equip the students with knowledge, skills, and resources to support and promote their mental health literacy and wellness amid the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.


Salma El-Behaedi, Northwestern University, Medicine

Salma will initiate a patient education program for breast cancer patients who are underinsured or uninsured to better navigate the adverse dermatologic effects associated with their cancer treatments at Northwestern Hospitals.


Jean Gavina, University of Illinois at Chicago, Nursing

Jean will focus efforts with minority high school students and community-based organizations in Chicagoland. The project will specifically concentrate on mental health, wellness and self-care sessions in collaboration with Asian Health Coalition and other partnering community organizations. It will empower the youth and community volunteers by providing the necessary tools and skills needed to advocate for healthier communities. It will also provide communities access to educational resources, tools, tips, ways to improve emotional wellbeing and provide opportunities needed to be healthy.


Zhong Huang, University of Chicago, Medicine

Zhong will work with the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community’s Origin project. He will facilitate a project-based, youth-led civic engagement program focused on issues related to AAPI well-being and leadership.


Austin Hwang, Northwestern University, Medicine

Austin proposes to initiate health classes related to preventative medicine, diet and exercise, diabetes, and hypertension for Rohingya refugees and immigrants living the greater Chicagoland area. He will also enroll eligible community members in SNAP/Medicaid, and counsel clients about potential lifestyle changes to improve health outcomes. This program aims to develop health literacy skills amongst participants, address the social determinants of health, and empower community members to make healthy lifestyle changes.


Brice Jones, Rush University, Clinical Research

Brice will be partnering with Maywood Fine Arts and with community stakeholders such as My Block My Hood My City (M3) on implementing a youth gun violence intervention project. This program will utilize a community-based participatory approach that will empower youth to address and find intervention points to combat gun violence. This program will engage the youth through an interactive and multi-faceted approach to dismantling gun violence in Chicago neighborhoods, while establishing reinvestment opportunities for those communities suffering from inequities.


Boram Kim, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Art Therapy and Counseling

Boram will create a memory album with residents of Central Baptist Village that helps them communicate by recalling memories and calming their moods. Making a memory book can be a great way for the person with memory impairment to recollect their memories and stimulate their mind. It also helps the person with communication through talking about what is in the book when people do not know how to communicate with the person with memory impairment. The books will be created and shared with residents, family and staff.


Rebecca Lai, Rush University, Nursing

Rebecca will be working with Project Vision, a Chinatown-based tutoring center to help tailor social emotional programming and provide mentoring for their middle school students. The students are mostly of Chinese descent and are children of immigrants or immigrants themselves.


Samantha Maurer, Midwestern University, Medicine

Samantha proposes to empower children in foster care at LYDIA home through educational activities teaching them about their own developing health and ways they can take ownership of their own well-being.


LaWanda McCraney, Adler University, Clinical Psychology

LaWanda will partner with Illinois Humanities Sojourner Scholar’s program to address emotional and mental well-being in high school students. She will facilitate an interactive art and music workshop aimed in helping students identify and express both positive and uncomfortable emotions. She will also seek to create a safe space for the students to share their lived experiences.


Meghan Murphy, Saint Xavier University, Nursing

Meghan will partner with Heartland Health Centers to increase health literacy and health awareness in Spanish-speaking residents of Albany Park. She will initiate a series of interactive weekly and monthly health workshops aimed at diabetes, hypertension, and other health topics most relevant to the Albany Park neighborhood. She will also seek to empower participants to take ownership of health information and become advocates and sources of health information for their families, friends, coworkers, and community.


Travis Nielsen, Loyola University, Medicine and Public Health

Travis’ project is designed to empower bilingual high school students from underprivileged backgrounds to make a difference in their communities while learning about public health by improving access to preventive health services for adult, Spanish-speaking immigrants in the Cicero community.


Aishwarya Nugooru, Rush University, Medicine

Aishwarya will initiate educational sessions for minority, underserved high school students in West Side Chicago. The sessions will provide education to youth on topics in financial literacy and healthcare literacy in order to bridge gaps in financial education and address generational poverty.


Anne Osuji, University of Illinois at Chicago, Medicine

Anne proposes to sustain and expand the DASH of Soul Food program, a program aimed to improve high blood pressure based on DASH diet principles adapted to culturally appropriate recipes. This program at Deborah’s Place, a supportive housing program for women with previous experiences with homelessness, will incorporate heart healthy recipes, balanced lifestyle modifications and wellness practices to empower women to take control of their health and improve their health outcomes.


Jenna Pasanen, University of Illinois at Chicago, Criminology, Law, and Justice

Jenna will work with the Reentry Program at Cook County Jail Women’s Division to equip group participants with information about local services and resources that can support them in rebuilding their lives after incarceration, and to empower participants to build healthy relationships with themselves as well as their friends, families, and communities.


Havisha Pedamallu, Northwestern University, Medicine and Public Health

Havisha proposes a culturally competent preventive health education programs for South Asian immigrants. She will work with the SAATH and SAHELI studies, which aim to promote health eating and exercise in the South Asian community. Topics will target false beliefs and misconceptions and discuss important health concepts that pertain to this specific community.


Jennifer Plascencia Lopez, University of Illinois Chicago, Public Health

Jennifer will work with the UIC Urban Health Club in an academic-year program intended for underserved pre-health high school students (grades 9-12). With three curriculum areas, Health Career Exploration, College Readiness, and Public Health & Civic Engagement, students have the opportunity to engage with current UIC undergraduate and graduate students to explore pursuing careers in the health field. Students also have the opportunity to engage and network with health professionals from different backgrounds and specialties.


Juaquan Savage, University of Illinois at Chicago, Dentistry

Juaquan will provide lessons in oral hygiene education, nutritional counseling, and social and emotional support to male participants to teach them the importance of oral health and decrease the rate of cavities. Through group discussions, skits, and other interactive activities, he will address issues such as conflict resolution, proper etiquette for interviews, and different expressions of respect.


Tanner Shull, University of Illinois at Chicago, Public Health

Tanner is partnering with Healthy Hood Chicago to expand the 5+1=20 program in Chicago Public High Schools in Pilsen and Little Village. He will be implementing a new behavior change methodology, training of trainers, and critical public health theory curriculum. Together, this will build the capacity of CPS students to act as health promoters to encourage individual-level behavior change in their communities and contextualize disproportionate health outcomes with relevant public health theory.


Sharmain Siddiqui, Loyola University, Medicine

Sharmain will engage with Little Village Environmental Justice Organization’s (LVEJO) community-based urban farm and garden. Drawing upon the rich community of seasonal gardeners at LVEJO, this project aims to co-teach and co-create a decolonized herbal medicine curriculum that is culturally tailored to the Mexican community in Little Village. This curriculum will be taught in an experiential and action-oriented manner, and will be rooted primarily in holding discussions and workshops on diet-related illnesses, medicine-making skill-shares, and food justice topics. This work will culminate in a mobile apothecary—where plant-based medicines can be distributed to the community. The mobile apothecary will include informational community documents on herbs.


Niam Vora, University of Illinois Chicago, Pharmacy

Niam aims to develop the nation’s first Transitions of Coordinated Care program for released HCV/HIV prison patients from the Illinois Department of Corrections. The program will serve as a case management/social support program to ensure recently incarcerated populations have access to medication, therapy, addictions resources, health literacy and insurance.


Jim Zhang, Rosalind Franklin University, Medicine

Jim will initiate a mental health education program, centered around art and mindfulness, for the intellectual and developmental disabilities community at Arts of Life. The program will be delivered to the organization’s Chicago and North Shore campuses to bridge mental health disparities that affect this population.