2023-24 Fellows - Health & Medicine Policy Research Group

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2023-24 Fellows

For more information about this program please contact:

Karol Dean
Program Director, Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellowship kdean@hmprgstage.wpengine.com

Mia Hayford
Workforce Policy Analyst & Schweitzer Fellows Program Coordinator mhayford@hmprgstage.wpengine.com

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2023-24 Fellows

  • Overview


The 2023-24 Schweitzer Fellows include 28 outstanding students representing 11 schools, 11 disciplines, and 19 academic programs. The Program’s interdisciplinary approach exposes students to real-world inter-professional collaborative care. Each of the 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.


Oluwamuyiwa Winifred Adebayo, Rush University, Medicine

Oluwamuyiwa proposes to develop a multimodal educational intervention for African American/Black adults living with cardiovascular diseases. This educational intervention will promote self-management and wellness and facilitate tertiary prevention.


Syeda Akila Ally, University of Illinois, Medicine

Akila proposes to initiate nutrition and chronic disease prevention classes for South Asian immigrant women. The classes will dispel myths about chronic diseases and provide social support and community connections.


Ruth Londono Alzate, Rosalind Franklin University, Medicine

Ruth proposes to initiate a healthy lifestyle and empowerment program for at-risk youth that come from financial struggles. The program will provide educational seminars and leadership courses to youth. This program will empower these youth to believe in themselves and positively impact their community.


Karyn Byrne, National Louis University, Community Psychology

Karyn is passionate about establishing safe, accessible spaces where community members can receive social support regarding weight wellness. The weekly meetings to be offered will provide education on topics chosen by community members and social support to promote healing and a sense of community.


Ivana Chmielewski, North Park University, Nursing and Business

Through collaboration with Swedish Hospital, Ivana will develop literacy education with a focus on mental health and social determinants of health to provide transcultural nursing resources that empower the community of immigrants, refugees, minority, and unhoused individuals in a safe community space.


Sydney Cush, Northwestern University, Medicine

By working with community health clinics, Sydney hopes to develop culturally relevant educational materials and a curriculum that will educate black women on reproductive health topics such as endometriosis and self-advocacy in the doctor’s office.


Inés Debbiche, Northwestern University, Medicine

Inés proposes to educate Hispanic patients at the Community Health Clinic to increase health literacy and improve hypertension management.


Celeste Guzman, University of Illinois, Pharmacy

Celeste proposes to initiate mental health workshops for the underserved communities of Chicago. Workshops will empower community members to address mental health concerns in their daily lives and continue developing resilience.


Leah Hoeniges, Rush University, Nursing

Leah plans to implement health literacy training courses on Chicago’s South Side, working to reduce disparities and promote education related to gynecologic cancer screenings, diagnosis, treatment options and survivorship.


Kai Holder, Northwestern University, Medicine and Public Health

Kai’s project is a Parent Readiness Psycho-Education Program that hosts educational seminars focused on self-agency and empowerment for young pregnant and postpartum women.


Chinasa Imo, University of Chicago, Social and Health Policy

Chinasa is interested in reducing disparities in access to care for women and youths facing domestic abuse/violence in Chicago. Her Project will create a safe space support program where women and youths facing violent abuse can receive tailored, wrap-around support to help them overcome their vulnerabilities.


Preetham Kastury, University of Chicago, Medicine

Preetham proposes to create a longitudinal community-based curriculum for older adults in the South Side of Chicago focusing on topics surrounding digital equity (digital well-being, access, safety, literacy etc.). Preetham’s project will be in collaboration with the SHARE (Supporting Healthy Aging Resources & Education) Network.


Julia Kavanagh, Midwestern University, Medicine

Julia will partner with the LYDIA Home to address the poor health outcomes of children in the foster care system. Through education activities and self-empowerment, this project will work to combat early health disadvantages and improve the health literacy of Chicago’s foster care youth.


Tyler Linder, Rush University, Medicine

Tyler is facilitating a community educational program through Rush University and Project sWish Chicago for underserved youth affected by gang violence. Project sWish hosts basketball tournaments during times of high gang violence and by working together this program will educate children about mental/physical health and provide information regarding health care.


Jacqueline Lueken, Loyola University Chicago, Social Work

Jacque proposes to facilitate support groups for Caregivers and Supporters of loved ones who have been diagnosed with a chronic illness or disease using arts integration. These groups will provide a space for those who are often the last to ask for help or support a space to make connections, share their hardships and experiences, and find a much needed reprieve from being the “one leaned on” in order to help them continue to be there fully for their loved ones.


Paige Madden, Midwestern University, Dentistry and Public Health

Paige’s proposed project involves making sure that senior citizens in our community benefit from the preventative measures of health.


Sahar Al-Najjar, Adler University, Clinical Psychology

Sahar values advocating for diverse communities and uplifting the narratives and lived experiences of marginalized identities who have often been underrepresented. Sahar proposes to initiate a therapy support group for BIPOC individuals from marginalized backgrounds who seek trauma-informed mental health support. The therapy group will serve as a social support for individuals who do not have equitable mental health resources within their community.


Angela Olivar, University of Illinois Chicago, Dentistry

Angela proposes to raise awareness about the importance of oral healthcare, providing educational sessions and to address factors that limit Latino communities in seeking continuous oral healthcare services.


Simon Park, Loyola University, Medicine

Simon will lead a self-advocacy medical training program for blind and visually impaired (BVI) residents at the Friedman Place in Northwest side of Chicago. This effort will equip BVI adults with knowledge in basic medical terms and communication skills to advocate for improved health and wellness.


Evan Patel, Rush University, Medicine

Evan plans to improve the accessibility of otolaryngology care for Chicago’s homeless population through the development of free in-person and telemedicine clinics. These clinics are a small but important step in dismantling preexisting barriers that homeless populations face in receiving quality healthcare.


Fatima Rasoul, Loyola University, Social Work

Fatima proposes to develop a program to provide social supports for refugee and immigrant mothers. Her program foci are maternal education and mental health support to promote maternal and child health, as well as providing support to diminish the bureaucratic barriers preventing access to social welfare programs.


Ambika Seshadri, DePaul University, Nursing

Ambika proposes to establish or expand prenatal support programming at a clinic on the South Side of Chicago that serves African American women. The program curriculum will provide health screening, education to promote health literacy and self-advocacy, and social support.


Chirag Shah, Midwestern University, Medicine

Chirag proposes a medical literacy program that serves non-English speaking Spanish residents. The program will provide information on accessing healthcare and understanding individual health.


Michelle Soans, DePaul University, Research Psychology

Michelle proposes to implement resilience building workshops at Cook County Jail’s Women’s Division. The workshops will provide women with practice based coping strategies, mental health education and resources, as well as career development tools, to promote mental wellness and empowerment.


Alexander Wang, University of Chicago, Medicine

Alex plans to work with the Coalition for a Better Chinese American Community to sustain and expand upon the Origin Youth Program, a youth-led program that empowers high school students to develop and carry out civic engagement projects of their choosing. This project will support students in the Origin Youth Program as they develop their sense of identity.


Jason Xiao, University of Chicago, Medicine

Jason’s project centers on raising awareness on health disparities in visual health, organizing low-cost vision screenings and referrals. He will develop an educational curriculum for members of the Bridgeport/Chinatown communities to be better equipped to take charge of their visual and systemic health.


Karen Yuan, Loyola University, Medicine

Karen will partner with the Center on Halsted to address the unique aging challenges and caregiving needs of LGBTQ+ older adults. She will implement healthy aging initiatives that increase visibility in LGBTQ+ aging, foster intergenerational connection, and connect seniors and their caregivers with community assets so that more LGBTQ+ older adults will have the support and resources to live life to the fullest.