The 2021 Celebration of Service was held virtually on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, to celebrate the accomplishments of the 2020 Alabama Schweitzer Fellow class and of the 2021 ASF Humanitarian of the Year, Dr. Mark Wilson.
Brooke Bowles, the newest ASF Board President, began the 2021 Celebration of Service with a welcome and acknowledgment of current donors and site partners. She also thanked outgoing ASF Board President, Dr. Stefan Kertesz, for his six years of service and commitment to the Fellowship.
Humanitarian of the Year Presentation and Keynote
Dr. Stefan Kertesz then introduced Dr. Mark Wilson, current Health Officer of Jefferson County, as this year’s Humanitarian of the Year recipient.
In his keynote, Dr. Wilson recounted his public health career through the context of a question posed to him at the beginning of his career: “Would you rather give a cup of water to one thirsty person or would you rather feed the 5,000?”. He charged the outgoing 2020 Fellow class to have a personal connection to those they serve, whether they are serving individuals or within a population. Dr. Wilson said through the personal relationships he developed motivates him to do the work of public health. Ultimately, Dr. Wilson defined what it means to be a humanitarian: ‘caring for the individual humans in a close, high-touch personal way..then doing whatever you can to change the largest content for good of humans generally.”
2020 Fellows Showcase
Following Dr. Wilson’s keynote, the 2020 Alabama Schweitzer Fellow class shared prepared remarks on their projects, their outcomes, and how the Fellowship has transformed their lives over the past year. To celebrate their accomplishments, they were given certificates of completion, pins, and the now honored distinction of being called Fellows for Life.
Presentation of Mentee Awards
Prince Cleveland, an ASF Board Member, presented Dr. Deborah Bowers and Dr. Candace Knight with the 2020 Outstanding Academic and Site Mentor Awards, respectively. Both recipients were nominated by Fellows for their exemplary work this past year. Mr. Cleveland also thanked this year’s site and academic mentors.
Closing Remarks and Introduction of 2021 Fellows
Above: A screenshot of 2020 ASF Fellow Lita Waggoner giving her closing remarks to the 2021 Celebration of Service attendees.
Now, more than ever, it’s important that we are compassionate towards others and advocate for public health. Each and every one of us on this call tonight has a role to play in addressing health disparities. We must continue to fight the good fight, even when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult.Lita Waggoner, 2020 Fellow for Life
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Lita Waggoner, now a 2020 ASF Fellow for Life, introduced the newest class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows and provided parting words to her class and attendees alike: “As difficult as this year has been for us, it has been even more difficult for the vulnerable populations we have chosen to serve. The pandemic has exposed many socioeconomic, educational, and health disparities in American society…Now, more than ever, it’s important that we are compassionate towards others and advocate for public health. Each and every one of us on this call tonight has a role to play in addressing health disparities. We must continue to fight the good fight, even when it’s difficult, especially when it’s difficult.”