Dr. Richard Kennedy and T. Marie King Receive Prestigious Awards
Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama
P.O. Box 660412
Birmingham, AL 35266
Tiffany S. Adams
Birmingham, AL — May 5, 2022 — The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) of Alabama announced today the recipients of its 2022 Outstanding Academic Mentor and Outstanding Site Mentor awards. A distinction of the Fellowship is the cross-sector collaboration between academics and the community, as seen in the recognition of outstanding mentors who played critical roles in the success of Schweitzer Fellows during their year in the program. Dr. Richard Kennedy of the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Heersink School of Medicine and T. Marie King of Jones Valley Teaching Farm received their awards in recognition of each honoree’s exemplary commitment to their ASF Fellow mentees.
Dr. Richard Kennedy, this year’s Outstanding Academic Mentor Award recipient, works as an Associate Professor in the Division of Gerontology, Geriatrics and Palliative Care in the UAB Department of Medicine. Kennedy mentored Margaret Lloyd and Malik Seals, 2021-22 ASF Fellows studying Biomedical Sciences in the UAB Graduate School who partnered together on a project to help elderly populations increase their technological proficiency.
Kennedy reflected on his experience as a mentor. “I remember a little over a year ago when Malik approached me with his Albert Schweitzer Fellowship project combining two of my favorite topics, geriatrics and technology. We have seen firsthand with the COVID-19 pandemic that older adults can be quite vulnerable to social isolation. But vulnerability does not mean inevitability. Malik and Margaret’s project demonstrates how we can contribute to making older age a positive and rewarding stage of life – it just sometimes takes a little creativity,” said Kennedy.
“Dr. Kennedy has been instrumental in my desire to pursue graduate work in bioethics and has provided me an an incredible opportunity to work with faculty members in nursing, palliative care and geriatrics,” said Seals. “He has helped me to identify and pursue interests that would have never crossed my radar without his introduction.”
Lloyd echoed Seals’ praise of Kennedy and his tireless dedication to their project. “Dr. Kennedy was wonderful and made me feel like an established member of the team from the first time that I met with him,” said Lloyd. “I feel like we were able to take this project further than I expected because we had him as a constant guide. He has helped every step of the way which has made me feel more competent in the process.”
“I know how excited Malik and Margaret were to talk to me at our mentor meetings about the older adults they had been in contact with, and how the enjoyment showed in their faces and in their voices,” said Kennedy. “ As a mentor, I would like to think I had at least a little something to do with the success of this project, but I know it is really due to the hard work and dedication of Malik and Margaret, and even more so due to the older adults we have had the privilege to work with. I am grateful to the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship for letting me serve as a mentor, which was the highlight of this last year for me. I am also grateful to Malik and Margaret for choosing me to be their mentor, and I look forward to seeing what they will accomplish as Fellows for Life.”
As this year’s Outstanding Community Site Mentor Award recipient, King works as the Director of Youth Pathways and Experience at Jones Valley Teaching Farm, a nonprofit that works to deliver food-based education in Birmingham, Ala. King’s mentee, 2021-22 Fellow Ibukun Afon who is a graduate student in the UAB School of Health Professions, facilitated intergenerational dialogues with community members living in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham and student apprentices from Jones Valley Teaching Farm. These conversations were rooted in sharing experiences and perspectives about mental health and well-being, activism, food and nutrition, among other topics. The purpose of Afon’s project was to address social isolation and loneliness. As a result of the program, both older adults and student apprentices expressed improved social connection.
Afon commented on King’s dedication as a mentor: “T. Marie is everything I could have asked for in a site mentor. From the moment we met, I could see her passion for youth development and how much she cares about her students. We first spoke for over an hour and she poured into me quite a bit and, from there, helped guide how our project would run,” said Afon. “ T. Marie was kind in her delivery as she reminded me of the importance of being less rigid and more participatory as a member of the project rather than just a volunteer trying to document my hours.”
“I feel blessed to have been given the opportunity to mentor Ibukun on his project and share my knowledge of working in communities,” said King. “It’s easy to come up with ideas – it’s harder to walk them out. Ibukun navigated the journey like a true leader. Not only were the intergenerational conversations he designed fun but impactful as well. I watched my apprentices get excited each week for their conversations and witnessed development of deep relationships with the matriarchs of Woodlawn.”
King and Kennedy were honored at ASF of Alabama’s Celebration of Service event on April 30, 2022, where they were recognized alongside the graduating 2021-22 class of ASF Fellows, composed of thirteen graduate students from the University of Montevallo, Samford University and UAB.
About The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) of Alabama is developing the next generation of healthcare professionals to serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities in Alabama. Since 2016, ASF of Alabama has trained 92 students who have partnered with over 50 community organizations to provide approximately 18,000 hours of service at a value of more than $400,000 to Alabama’s most vulnerable groups. Nationally, more than 4,000 U.S. Schweitzer Fellows have delivered nearly 750,000 hours of service to individuals and communities in need. Through its intensive one-year Fellowship program and the ongoing work of its 4,000+ Fellow for Life alumni, ASF perpetuates the legacy of physician-humanitarian and Nobel Peace laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer.