Albert Schweitzer Fellows lift up underserved communities across Alabama

By: Michael Sznajderman

As undergraduate students at Tuskegee University who were active in community service, Joi Chinakwe and Micah Grey saw firsthand the many challenges faced by people living in underserved areas of rural Macon County, where the university is located.

They became especially attuned to the lack of health care resources, compared to communities not too far distant, such as Montgomery and Auburn.

After the two friends graduated and began studies at the Harrison College of Pharmacy at Auburn University, they sought a way to continue the culture of service instilled in them at Tuskegee.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama, a nonprofit that equips graduate students studying health disciplines to advance health equity in the state, provided a path for the two to address an unmet need in Macon County and apply the knowledge they’ve gained in their ongoing professional studies.

“At Auburn, we were looking for an opportunity to establish a health equity project and we thought, what better place to give back than Macon County, Alabama?” said Chinakwe, 25, who grew up in Montgomery and is entering her third year of pharmacy school.

With support and guidance through the fellowship, Chinakwe and Grey created the “Junior Healthcare Leaders of Alabama” to devise and deliver an after-school, health-literacy program that they put to the test at Notasulga High School. The program helped educate adolescents there about a variety of health-related issues that plague residents in many disadvantaged and rural communities: from high blood pressure and cholesterol to diabetes and food allergies, to the challenges of eating healthy in food deserts where access to full-service grocery stores and fresh produce is limited.

Read the whole article at Alabama News Center