Slide 5

"The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has been a great year full of learning experiences, successes, and failures. In my opinion, the most vital leadership development was learning how to continue after failures or denials. There was a point in the fellowship year where I had not received one positive milestone, but I continued to have meetings with stakeholders and share my pitch... My willingness to not give up on my interventions can be carried into my career and future service projects. I know there is a need. I will not stop telling people and serving until there’s not a need anymore.”

Fellow for Life, 2020-21
Slide 3

“As a future physician it is my duty to learn the art of medicine, which is the balance between science and human compassion. The Schweitzer Fellowship has provided me the opportunity to develop this skill as I served my community and as Dr. Schweitzer said, ‘The purpose of human life is to serve.’”

Fellow for Life, 2018-19
Slide 4

“ASF served as a constant reminder of why I entered the heathcare profession – to help people. It never ceased to amaze me how eager families were to learn at my cooking and nutrition classes each week. Their genuine appreciation…inspired me weekly to develop lesson plans that were both enjoyable and impactful.”

Fellow for Life, 2017-18
Slide 1

"The greatest lesson I was taught through this experience was that the best way to incite a change in the world, is by you yourself stepping up and becoming that changing force."

Fellow for Life, 2017-18
Slide 2

"As a result of participating in this program, I was able to get to know a population of children that are often misunderstood as being ‘bad’ kids. I learned that these at-risk youth are children who face a lot of challenges and take on responsibilities at home that the average child does not – so much so that going to school every day is a big accomplishment. I plan…to contribute to the knowledge base within the counseling profession about at-risk youth and using literature in therapy. I would not have had this opportunity without the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship."

Fellow for Life, 2017-18
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Alabama Fellows & Projects

Jamie Davison

UAB Heersink School of Medicine

The goal of Jamie’s project is to decrease the digital divide by working one-on-one with patients of the University of Alabama Providing Access to Healthcare (PATH) Clinic to address their individual digital literacy goals. Building upon a grant the PATH Clinic was awarded to distribute smartphones to patients without them, Jamie will work one-on-one to improve their digital literacy and health literacy skills. Smartphone access gives people who are PATH Clinic patients the ability to make more contact with their support networks through phone calls, texts, video chats, and social media. It also gives them access to certain apps that they can use to improve their health, such as calorie counter apps, mindfulness apps, and even bluetooth glucometer monitoring. Ultimately, Jamie anticipates that increasing digital literacy and access to health-supporting apps will lead to improvements in health outcomes, as well.

Leandra Durham

UAB School of Health Professions

Durham is addressing diabetes in people with disabilities and the aging population in the United States by adapting and adding additional nutrition education modules to the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program. This program will be piloted among Lakeshore Foundation members starting in May 2022. The program will be adapted to be inclusive using the Guidelines, Recommendations, Adaptations, Including Disability (GRAIDs) framework. Additional nutrition modules will be created for participants interested in learning more about nutrition and diabetes prevention, nutrition and diabetes management, and nutrition for the caregivers. The aim is to improve diabetes management, create a community for shared experiences, and empower people with prediabetes, diabetes, and their caregivers. 

Community sites: National Center on Health, Physical Activity and Disability and Lakeshore Foundation.

Kimberly Eaton

UAB School of Public Health

Eaton is addressing the mental health of parents who have lost a child to cancer by providing them an avenue to share what they have learned with families who are entering end-of-life care. By helping other families in similar situations, grieving parents have an opportunity to find meaning in their child’s death, which can give their life purpose. In addition, the educational materials created through this project will help inform medical staff and the community on how to best support these families. Eaton will also develop a strategic plan for her community site partner with the goal of continuing to build on these educational materials in the future.

Community Site: Angel’s Hope

Chelsea Gayre

Auburn University College of Nursing

Gayre is addressing rural health disparities in Union Springs, Alabama, by establishing specialty care consultations for primary care patients using a telemedicine platform. Bullock County Hospital will partner with Vital Engine, LLC. in an effort to improve health outcomes and satisfaction in patients in need of cardiac care. Education will encourage participants to engage in their healthcare in an effort to build healthier and productive communities.

Community Site: Bullock County Hospital 

Micah Grey and Joi Chinakwe

Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy; Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy

Chinakwe and Grey will address health disparities in rural areas by implementing the Junior Healthcare Leaders of Alabama initiative at Notasulga High School. The purpose of the program is to provide the students foundational knowledge to manage their own health, skills to handle emergency situations, and inspiration for students to pursue a career in healthcare. Within Alabama, it is common for rural areas to experience less health education. In turn, this results in a decrease in medication adherence, an increased chance of adverse drug events, and mismanagement of health. The long-term goal of our program is to target these factors through health literacy in young adults in order to decrease recorded negative health outcomes within the area.


Trinity Houston

UAB Heersink School of Medicine/ UAB School of Public Health

Houston is addressing the effects of gun violence on mental health by conducting an in-school program for 7th and 8th graders at Tarrant High School. The program will focus on providing interactive sessions regarding healthy coping mechanisms, anger-management, conflict-resolution skills, and effective self-care practices. The goal of the program is to foster mental and emotional development while emphasizing good decision making in hopes of reducing future gun violence among our youth. 

Community Site: Impact Family Counseling 

Madison Jeziorski

UAB Heersink School of Medicine

Madison is addressing the housing needs of people experiencing homelessness by assisting in the establishment and analysis of Safe Sleep Area (SSA) in Birmingham, Alabama. Madison will collect survey data and conduct interviews with people using the shelters during the initial implementation of SSA for people displaced during the Birmingham World Games. Using this data, Madison will begin the process of finding a permanent location for the new SSA program in coordination with One Roof. This will create a new, safe housing option that decreases stress and safety concerns regarding finding shelter each night and allows participants to consistently engage with shelter programs designed to provide a variety of support for people experiencing homelessness.

Community Site: One Roof

Zoie McIntosh and Dara Johnson

UAB School of Dentistry; UAB School of Dentistry

Johnson and McIntosh are addressing childhood caries in Birmingham by designing a nutrition education and oral hygiene instruction curriculum as a part of the MHRC’s Healthy Happy Kids Elementary program. In addition to teaching children the importance of good nutrition and proper oral hygiene, their work will also involve building a referral system for students in need of a dental home with the Sidney B. Finn Pediatric Dentistry Clinic at the UAB School of Dentistry and promotion of a nutritionally sound and oral health conscious diet through a promotional campaign between Healthy Happy Kids partner schools and their surrounding grocery stores. 

Community Site: UAB Minority Health & Health Disparities Research Center (MHRC)

Eric Mussell and Collin Dorner

UAB Heersink School of Medicine & UAB Collat School of Business; UAB School of Nursing

Eric and Collin will be assisting with the already existing Changed Lives Mobile Clinic (CLMC). The CLMC is a charitable primary care clinic managed through a partnership between the UAB School of Nursing and the Foundry Ministries. The project will address medication adherence issues to improve primary care outcomes of the residents at the Changed Lives Christian Center (CLCC) and the Foundry Farm (FF). Residents of these facilities are males in substance use recovery who vary widely in age and with a variety of chronic health conditions and mental illnesses that have often gone untreated for many years prior to their arrival to these treatment facilities. The UAB School of Nursing has been involved with the CLCC and FF for 5 years and while the scope of practice has continued to grow, medication adherence has been a routine issue. It is their goal to implement counseling that not only helps health literacy but also implements a system that tracks overall chronic health with retinal exams, vital sign trends, as well as all other pertinent lab values.

Community Site: Changed Lives Christian Center (CLCC) and Foundry Farm (FF)

Renee Pan

Auburn University College of Education

Pan is working with young adults with disabilities including their caregivers to address their special needs in the Auburn, Opelika area by using assistive technology to improve their quality of life. In addition to enhancing youths’ time management, medication management, nutritional awareness, and social interaction skills, this health and wellness project aims to support each student to achieve their specific goals for the next chapter in their lives with a holistic and person-centered approach. The ultimate goal of the project will not only encourage a higher level of independence as they transition with disabilities into a working environment or continue their education, but also provide a channel for the participants to establish senses of self-advocacy, self-determination, and empowerment.

Community Site: BraveHeart Center for Place and Purpose

Gnyata Patel

UAB Heersink School of Medicine

Patel is addressing the mental health of caregivers of pediatric leukemia/lymphoma patients. This project will focus on first recognizing mental health barriers in this population and then connecting caregivers and patients to free resources as well as mental health providers. The project will aim to foster healthy coping strategies and provide emotional and social support for this population.  

Community Site: Hope and Cope Psychosocial Educational Program at Children’s of Alabama 

Angel Perry-Jackson

University of Montevallo, College of Education

Angel will be addressing the mental health needs of Black girls and women ages 20-60 in Birmingham and surrounding areas. The need is based on promoting and creating education and access for the community, while trying to increase the number of Black and brown clinicians. The goal is to reduce stigmas surrounding mental health and increase understanding and access to mental health services through educational workshops, empowerment sessions, and treatment options.

Community Site: No More Martyrs

Salomon Roman Soto and Yolanda Amezaga

UAB Heersink School of Medicine; UAB Heersink School of Medicine

The Community of Hope Health Clinic is a free healthcare clinic that offers mental health services once a week. Currently, the clinic experiences a 60% no-show rate of patients who scheduled an appointment. Amezaga and Roman-Soto seek to improve appointment adherence by changing the perception surrounding mental health and its treatment. They intend to improve mental health outcomes by promoting patient education and informing clinic providers on the best practices to address its stigma. Ultimately, Yolanda and Salomon strive to see an increase in appointment adherence which will lead to an increase in treatment, counseling, and continued follow-up with the clinic. They aim to create a ripple in the movement to address mental health stigma and advance mental health outcomes in this population.

Community Site: Community of Hope Health Clinic

Andres Tovar

Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy

Tovar is addressing substance use disorder education in Auburn by partnering with the Lee County Youth Development Center (LCYDC). In order to have the most impact, he will spend time each week in a classroom setting with a specific student population that has been processed into the facility due to substance abuse issues. While acting under the authority of a student pharmacist, he will aid the professor by answering questions and being an active mentor with the goal of building good rapport both as a presenter and future healthcare worker. After a month of getting to know the students, he will begin a 4 week period wherein he will present on the topics of substance use disorder (week one), alcohol use (week two), tobacco and marijuana use (week three) and opioid use (week four). In order to gauge success of the presentations, attitudes and knowledge will be quantified through anonymous pre and post-seminar surveys given on week one and four respectively. Pamphlets with local resources and a summary of information will also be provided. The goal is to educate, kindle hope and subsequently reduce recidivism due to substance use in the adolescent population.

Community Site: Lee County Youth Development Center

Anthony Wilson and Mack Bozman

UAB Heersink School of Medicine; UAB Heersink School of Medicine

Bozman and Wilson will create an organization for mentoring/tutoring fatherless youth and underserved young men and women in Huntsville and surrounding areas. Through the counseling department at Grissom High School, they will address fatherlessness and potential consequences on youth. Their work will create a model for mentorship that strengthens relationships in the lives of the students in the program. Sessions will address leadership, life-skills, college readiness, and social-emotional well-being . 

Community Site: Grissom High School

Ibukun Afon

UAB School of Health Professions (Health Services Administration)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Shauntice Allen
Site Mentor: T. Marie King
Site: Jones Valley Teaching Farm/Woodlawn United

Ibukun facilitated intergenerational dialogues with community members living in the Woodlawn neighborhood of Birmingham and student apprentices from Jones Valley Teaching Farm. These courageous conversations were rooted in sharing experiences and perspectives about mental health and well-being, activism, food and nutrition, and so much more. The purpose of his project was to address social isolation and loneliness, especially stemming from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a result of the program, both older adults (super adults as we like to call them) along with the student apprentices expressed improved social connection based on pre- and post-survey results from the Lubben Social Network Scale. 

This has been an enriching experience and I look forward to sustaining these relationships with matriarchs and mentees through ongoing engagement at SocialVenture and Jones Valley Teaching Farm. I’ve learned about the importance of servant leadership, active listening, and the power of community. I would be honored if an incoming ASF Fellow adopts this project in an effort to continue connecting with our local communities!

Jenai Bostic and Carolyn Grace Griffin

UAB School of Dentistry

Academic mentor: Dr. Augusto Robles
Site Mentor: Dr. Stephen Mitchell
Community Site: Sparks Dental Clinic

Jenai and Carolyn Grace shadowed at Sparks Dental Clinic to see patients who have autism, Down’s Syndrome, and cerebral palsy. They utilized these shadowing times to collect information on patients needs, clinic procedures and more in order to then better prepare current dental students on how to give proper dental care to this patient population. In addition, they used a common tool for communicating with individuals with autism–a storyboard, this one focused on going to the dentist–to create a video that can be used for patients and caregivers to give patients more comfort about what to expect.

As a result of their program:

  • Current dental students will receive additional instruction prior to their Sparks Clinic rotation beginning in Fall 2022, thereby raising their awareness of treating patients with intellectual disabilities
  • Current patients and caregivers have an additional tool to feel  more comfortable prior to coming to their appointment

We encourage everyone to use your passion to make an impact. The passion we have for serving this very special population will help us make an impact going forward.”

Tanya Correya

UAB School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. Kimberly Hoover, MD 
Site Mentor: Dr. Connie Hill, PhD 
Site: Girls Inc of Central Alabama 

Tanya addressed the lack of access to feminine hygiene products in Alabama middle schools by providing sanitary pad dispensers and refills to Girls Inc and middle schools. She designed and implemented an educational seminar series for young girls about menstrual care and hygiene. This included having OB/GYNs as guest speakers and providing additional resources for the girls, their families, and schools. The sessions were interactive, so the girls actively participated and asked any questions they had, both verbally if they felt comfortable or through anonymous notes. She conducted hands-on menstrual kit sessions where she provided materials and guided the girls on making their own kits, including different sizes of pads, hand sanitizer, and deodorant.

As a result of the program:

  • Provided 2 feminine hygiene dispensers and 6 boxes of pad refills with 250 pads per box, among Girls Inc, Jones Valley middle school and Huffman middle school.
  • Taught 64 girls about menstrual care 
  • Provided 31 menstrual care kits
  • Provided printed handouts and list of resources for girls and their families
  • Compiled and provided the menstrual care curriculum to Girls Inc staff, and counselors at Jones Valley, and Huffman middle schools so they can continue using it for future classes.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship allowed me the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. I greatly appreciate my mentors Dr. Kim Hoover and Dr. Connie Hill, who provided me with invaluable guidance and support. I learned that persistence and patience pay off in the long run. As a result of the experience I gained, I will continue to identify and assess needs in my community and approach complex issues with a problem-solving mindset. As a future healthcare professional, I plan to always put patients’ specific needs first to ensure I provide the best possible care.”

Jennifer Goolsby

University of Montevallo, College of Education and Human Development (Clinical Mental Health Counseling)

Academic Mentor: Dr. James Jackson
Site Mentor: Dr. Judith Harrington
Site: University of Montevallo Counseling Clinic/Shelby County Schools

Jenni provided counseling to a cohort of ten administrators as well as nine other leaders who reached out for support. In September, the ten participants reported anywhere from 10-15 days out of 30 where stress and stress reactions impacted their well-being. Jenni gave them access to tools through Monday Mindset emails which included short videos, activities, and podcasts focused on tools to add to their self-care toolbox. While another COVID year created barriers to meeting regularly in small groups, we were able to meet multiple times during the year to build a sense of community and shared experiences.  She also met individually each month to support participants in setting proactive goals and developing skills to identify and manage stressful thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

As a result of the program, by March, 9 of the 10 administrators indicated a reduction to 5 or fewer days of high stress and reported using a new strategy to manage the stress reaction through increased self-awareness, awareness of triggers, and the ability to use reflection to increase mindfulness. The sessions led to increased resiliency and the ability to positively withstand stressors and recover from difficult situations, which benefited them personally and professionally.

One participant shared, “Oftentimes as principals; we have to carry a large load or heavy burden. We don’t have too many people we can discuss our issues or stressors with. Having the ability to meet once a month with someone who knows what we are going through and sends us strategies and techniques is powerful. Oftentimes it just makes you feel better to be able to have an adult conversation without feeling you are being unprofessional.

2021-22 Alabama Schweitzer Fellow Madison Hartley, standing in a field, wearing a dark-blue sweater and white blouse.

Madison Hartley

Samford University, College of Health Sciences

Academic Mentor: Dr. Amy Broeseker
Site Mentor: Dr. Deborah Bowers
Site: Changed Lives Christian Center

My project aimed to connect with CLCC residents and help them with their health goals through one-on-one sessions. I spoke with patients about their conditions such as diabetes and hypertension and how healthy diet and exercise can improve how they feel. I educated patients on their personalized treatment plans as well as created infographics for commonly used medications at the site.  

As a result of the program:

  • After increasing health status knowledge (e.g., daily caloric needs, benefits of lowering HbA1c/blood glucose), several individuals  made diet changes that decreased sodium intake and decreased sugar-sweetened beverages and increased water
  • Patient education tools in the form of infographics were created for the clinic

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has planted seeds of adaptability, self-compassion, leadership, and service in me that will continue to grow throughout my life. Getting to be a part of a group that is  dedicated to leadership and service has given me the experience to assess needs in my community and the confidence to try to meet them. I have learned that being dedicated to a small group of people over even just a year can have a big impact. Change doesn’t happen overnight, and if I have the opportunity to help even one person, that is no small success.”

Matthew Hudson and Henry Kendrick

UAB School of Medicine/UAB School of Business & UAB School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Dr. Will Brooks, UAB Heersink School of Medicine
Site Mentor: Valerie Dubose, UAB Disability Support Services
Site: Birmingham Special Needs Affinity Group

Henry and Matthew have worked in conjunction with UAB Disability Support Services, UAB e-Learning, the Red Barn, United Ability and many other faculty and community partners over the past year to create an online disability education and training module. This module has and will continue to provide future health professionals within UAB graduate and professional schools with more information and a more personal connection to treating patients with a spectrum of physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities. Their module is both academic and interview-based with filmed personal interviews interspersed throughout the training that are done with patients with a range of disabilities, as well as their families and caregivers, to provide a more holistic, personal perspective on disability rather than the purely academic perspective that is typically given sporadically during their formal education. 

To test the module, Matthew and Henry piloted a similar version of the full e-Learning and in-person module. Medical and dental students who participated were given the opportunity to view and conduct interviews with families of persons with disabilities virtually and at the Red Barn, a therapeutic horsemanship center in Leeds, Alabama. Students overwhelmingly responded positively to the experience and reported an increased level of competence, comfort, and understanding in working with this population of patients in the future.

  • A total of 18 medical and dental students participated in the pilot disability competency education virtual pre-module and in-person interactive experience, receiving 108 cumulative direct contact hours with persons with disabilities at the Red Barn.
  • All 18 participating students responded favorably from pre- to post- attitudinal surveys regarding persons with disabilities.
  • All 18 participating students reported being more likely to be open to working with patients with disabilities in the future.
  • Over 15 filmed interviews were recorded at United Ability to provide future students a personal connection to disability advocacy while 5 filmed academic modules were developed in conjunction with UAB e-Learning, UAB DSS, and Dr. Danielle Powell with the Department of Physical Medicine and 
  • A Chapter of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry was established to provide lasting interdisciplinary collaboration between healthcare students interested in working with patients with disabilities.

The project will continue via the full e-Learning and in-person module which is currently nearing completion to be implemented in the Fall in both the UAB School of Dentistry and Heersink School of Medicine. 

A year ago, I had no idea what kind of doctor I wanted to be, spouting a different specialty every other week to the constant stream of family and friends asking that age-old small-talk question… “Do you know what kind of doctor you want to be?” I can say that this fellowship has given me plenty of moments of feeling inadequate and uncertain, with many moments of wondering whether our project would take shape, all in the hopes of bringing to life a goal that Henry and I envisioned a year ago would make at least a small difference for people with disabilities in our community. A year later, through this fellowship, I can say now that we did make some difference, and I do know what kind of future I want to have. I know that I want to be the person and the doctor who embodies a spirit of servant-leadership and passion, one that continues to work on projects that inspire change in the community, even when those creeping moments of inadequacy invade.”- Matthew Hudson

Grace Menzies & Joia Pfeiffer

UAB School of Public Health; UAB School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Dr. Deborah Bowers
Site Mentor: Dr. Emily Patton 
Site: Changed Lives Mobile Clinic

Grace and Joia conducted several projects for the clinic; first, they conducted a sleep study to understand the needs of the participants when it came to sleep education. They also worked with the clinic staff to improve the system for filling prescriptions at the clinic. When a new piece of lab equipment was purchased, Grace and Joia were the first to be trained, later teaching the clinic staff how to use the new equipment. Throughout the entire year they attended clinic as nurse presenters and recruited and trained future volunteers for the clinic. 

As a result of the program:

  • Created a sleep hygiene brochure which will be shared with all new residents at the Changed Lives Christian Center and the Foundry Farm
  • Recruited 10 short-term student volunteers from UAB School of Nursing, with one volunteer committing to long-term service
  • Developed an information guide and instruction rubric for the piccolo medical equipment device
  • Helped improve medication refill times from 5-6 hours to only 2-3 hours per refill session
  • Created information sheets on how to procure medications for clinic staff and one on how to use new pill counter for clinic patients

The roles and information Joia and Grace developed are now written up to be shared with anyone else that wants to join the clinic team. There is a 2022-23 ASF project anticipated to build upon Grace and Joia’s project, as well, focusing on increasing medication adherence and growing the patient population. 

If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; If I can ease one life the aching, Or cool one pain, Or help one fainting robin Unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain” – Emily Dickinson, shared by Joia Pfeiffer

Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.” – Ruth Bader Ginsburg, shared by Grace Menzies

Malik Seals & Margaret Lloyd

UAB Graduate School, Biomedical Sciences

Academic Mentor: Dr. Richard Kennedy
Site Mentor: Marcy Morgenbesser
Site: Collat Jewish Family Studies

We met with each participant individually to establish a baseline of technological proficiency. We then met with the participants one-on-one weekly to deliver personalized instruction at their level and pace. In addition they conducted weekly zoom sessions with the cohorts, so they could utilize their new technology/zoom skills while engaging and learning in a group setting. Finally, they created online resources (e.g., a google doc of FAQs, personalized “one-pagers” for each participant on how to navigate their favorite applications; etc.) to ensure participants could continue using technology after their 8-week session was over. Based upon additional interest, Malik and Margaret started a second session with a new cohort of participants who will be paired with volunteers they recruited to continue the program. 

As a result of the program: 

  • All 7 participants in the programs have quantitatively improved their technological literacy. 
  • They helped lower one participant’s phone bill by $60/month and saved another participant $20/month on subscription fees.
  • Individuals now use technology independently to connect to healthcare resources (2), such as COVID-19 tests; to order groceries using an online service (3); and for arranging transportation (1). 
  • Two participants now have access to technology that they never had before (chromebook and smart phone) and are learning quickly how to utilize them.

To sustain the project, Margaret and Malik have created a mini video series shared with our community partner for future use with staff training. They are also seeking volunteers within the UAB medical school to take over their project. 

As an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, my time has exposed me to my sometimes narrow way of thinking. At the beginning of the fellowship, I had everything planned out in excruciating detail; however, I did not seek input from the community that I was attempting to benefit; not only did my project require significant adjustments, but I did not gain insight from the participants on what they wanted from the program. The entire experience has been enlightening, especially as someone interested in the intersection of medicine, research, and public health; these fields require being able to accurately appraise the community’s needs, solicit feedback, and develop evidence-based solutions to address those needs. It wasn’t about the data we collected; instead, it was the smile on the participant’s faces as they regained their autonomy.”- Malik

The Alabama Schweitzer Fellowship has taught me that impact is not always about the big numbers. Impact is serving others in a capacity that meets both the participant’s and volunteers’ needs while building a relationship during that process.  Impact is hidden in the small moments like progress towards a goal or building trust with a participant. As a future medical professional, I want to serve my patients in a holistic manner where my patients feel comfortable discussing their needs and not just their symptoms.” Marge 

Shanquela Williams

UAB School of Public Health (Health Behavior)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Lonnie Hannon III
Site Mentor: Antonia Hill
Site: Grace House Ministries 

Williams developed, implemented, and evaluated a financial health program for adolescent girls in foster care in Fairfield, Alabama. The program incorporated an educational series with tools and resources that enhanced the girls’ skills to thrive in society. Ultimately, the program sought to instill habits to help them successfully transition to independent living.  

As a result of the program:

  • 22 girls received education and mentorship on managing finances
  • 13/18 girls met at least one financial goal 
  • 8 girls self-confidence about their ability to manage money increased
  • Saved a total of $879 

Sustainability is about partnership, commitment, and resources. Shan will continue to work with Grace House Ministries, weekly, to help the girls strengthen their life skills to thrive in society. 

I’ve always viewed giving back to be at the core of my being. I am taking what I have learned as a Fellow and transferring it into community-based actions that will transform people’s lives for the better. And with the backing of research, I can use my findings to encourage lasting change through legal advances.” 

Kaye Culp

Kaye Culp

University of Montevallo, College of Education

Academic Mentor: Dr. Judith Harrington

Site Mentor: Charity Laister

Site: Cahaba Medical Care

Online group counseling sessions were held to provide services for caregivers of children/siblings with disabilities in order to reduce stress and increase caregiving self-efficacy. When identified as a need, participants were also referred to counseling services with a therapist for continual support. Additionally, Kaye assisted with organizing an in-person support group in Bibb County, Alabama, at the public library for parents of children with autism. Along with organizing these meetings, she spoke monthly on the importance of self-care.

As a result of the program:

  • Fourteen parents participated in the online group counseling sessions and all reported a decrease in caregiver stress/burden and an increase in self-efficacy.
  • Eleven parents have committed to individual counseling sessions to help them manage ongoing stress.
  • Fourteen parents have a self-care plan.
  • Two of the individuals involved decided to return to college to pursue their ‘dream job’.
  • A support group for parents of children with autism was created at the public library in Bibb County, and attendance increased from two to six individuals.
  • A list of speakers was developed in conjunction with the public library which will allow these meetings to continue to be of service for parents of this population.

The Bibb County Public Library has committed to continue the autism support group, and Kaye created a list of speakers to allow them to continue to grow and support parents.

“I have enjoyed my fellowship experience with the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. Through my participation, I was able to meet and interact with so many wonderful people. I’m not sure who made the greater impact, myself (for my participants) or the participants (and their impact on me). I will never forget them. I greatly appreciate the professional development provided by the Schweitzer Fellowship and the ability to brainstorm and network with other Fellows. I feel as if I have a network of support who will always be available even though our career paths will differ. This has been an amazing and unforgettable journey.”

Katie Ellison

Katie Ellison

UAB School of Health Professions (Nutrition Sciences)

Academic Mentor: R. Drew Sayer, PhD

Site Mentor: Judy Vann

Site: Cooking Well

Katie developed a new curriculum for graduates of the Cooking Well program called ‘Next Steps,’ that dives deeper into the pathogenesis of diet-related chronic diseases and is intended to increase participants’ understanding of the relationship between health and nutrition. To do this, she developed teaching materials, student materials, recipes, and handouts for four modules covering inflammation, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and adiposity-based chronic disease.  Recognizing the barriers to accessing healthy foods on a budget, Katie also worked with a local grocery store (Village Market, in East Lake) to develop a healthy food line called Live HealthSmart Foods. These foods are available on discount to the public while Cooking Well participants receive an added discount. Katie was able to conduct one cohort of 5 women for the virtual Next Steps program and she is co-leading the original Cooking Well program for 25 women alongside Larissa Strath, an ASF Fellow For Life. Finally, Katie developed social media campaigns, including ‘Ask the RD.’

As a result of the program:

  • The Live HealthSmart Foods line has brought discounts on healthy foods to a local market in a food desert
  • The Village Market has a method to track purchases of LHS Foods and can determine what the best and worst sellers are to inform sustainability practices
  • A 501(c)(3) organization, Cooking Well, has a new Next Steps program that has reached 5 women with socioeconomically disadvantaged backgrounds. One of them reported “Cooking Well has made me aware that I can change the disease processes in my life. I have knowledge on how food can be medicine and experience with cooking foods I probably would never try. I enjoyed the encouragement and empowerment from the other women. My family has bought in to Healthy Tuesdays.”
  • Cooking Well has more than twice the number of social media followers from when the project year started
  • Dietetic interns have gained experience in community nutrition practices and principles

The project is being sustained by keeping the LHS Foods line available to the public and Cooking Well participants. Katie is working with UAB’s Live HealthSmart team to refine the food line and expand it to other markets in the greater Birmingham area. Cooking Well will continue to recruit participants for the virtual program and aim to resume in-person classes by the end of 2021.

Participating in the Schweitzer Fellowship and working with my site has provided me with the opportunity for tremendous growth, both professionally and personally. I learned how to build and sustain community partnerships by obtaining community consent and emphasizing stakeholder participation to foster co-learning and an equitable balance of benefits. I also gained invaluable skills in program development and community nutrition practices that I will use to sustain my project and expand it to other communities.

Photo of 2020 Alabama Schweitzer Fellow Maani Kamal

Maani Kamal

University of Alabama School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. David Kimberlin

Site Mentor: Nicole Leshoure

Site: Alabama Regional Medical Services (ARMS)

Maani has addressed the low rate of the HPV vaccination series at a Federally Qualified Health Center, seeking to institute changes on the provider-level that will impact patients and their guardians. Her project first assessed the current rate of HPV vaccination among the pediatric population (ages 11-18) for whom it is recommend, trying to determine the barriers that prevented more from being offered or accepting the immunization. She has connected the clinic staff to additional training resources, researched specific reminder and recall systems, and contributed data for a grant application to expand these efforts further.

As a result of the program:

  • ARMS staff have received additional training about HPV vaccination
  • ARMS administrators have a needs assessment, which they have used to submit a grant application for increasing vaccination rates
  • More educational materials about HPV vaccination is now available in all clinic rooms

The ARMS clinic is submitting a grant application to support HPV vaccinations. If received, funds would help purchase a reminder and recall system for the clinic, which is important for vaccinations (such as HPV) that have multiple doses.

Abigayle Kraus

Abigayle Kraus

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor:  Rachel Sinkey, MD

Site Mentor: Indranee Rajapreyar, MD

Site: UAB Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Division of Cardiology

The Happy Heart, Happy Mom project gained insight into the barriers and struggles women with heart disease face within the first year of childbirth. Abigayle administered surveys to learn about different aspects of maternal health postpartum, including mental health, physical health, breastfeeding, contraceptive use, and healthcare access. She then followed up with the women to discuss needs highlighted in the survey and to connect them to local resources.

As a result of the program:

  • The Division of Maternal Fetal Medicine and Division of Cardiology received first-hand accounts from six women to inform their future provision of services to all patients.
  • Based on survey responses, many women were concerned about healthy eating and living. A monthly newsletter was distributed to the participants to highlight affordable, quick and heart-healthy meals that could be made at home.
  • Participants had individualized needs met (e.g., accessing affordable lactose-free milk for one mother’s child)

The Schweitzer Fellowship enabled me to cultivate the skills and experience to serve and advocate for vulnerable patient populations in my community. Monthly meetings gave me the opportunity to meet and learn from current healthcare leaders in Alabama and the country, and to collaborate with my peers on how to solve these complex, multifaceted issues using an evidence-based and service-centered approach.

Sheila Mallenahalli

Sheila Mallenahalli

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. Caroline Harada

Site Mentor: Dr. Janet Niemeier

Site: UAB Spain Rehabilitation Clinic

Sheila addressed the difficulties encountered by spina bifida patients and their caregivers by developing educational materials that can present care guidelines in an easily digestible manner. Problems arise when patients and caregivers receive training primarily during once-a-year visits, where they receive a lot of information from a multi-disciplinary team. Recognizing that they may need more education and support to implement all of their activities of daily living, Sheila conducted interviews to first learn what challenges patients/caregivers faced on a daily basis. She learned that bowel management was an ongoing concern for most, and so Sheila spent time crafting guidance to walk them step-by-step for this important task, ensuring it met the recommendations of the various healthcare providers.

As a result of the program:

  • Spain Rehabilitation has a standardized protocol for bowel management for spina bifida patients that can be more readily followed by caregivers
Greer McCollum

Greer McCollum

UAB School of Public Health (Health Behavior)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Ann Elizabeth Montgomery

Site Mentor: Gordon Sullivan

Site: One Roof

Greer’s project increased One Roof’s capacity to serve youth and young adults who are experiencing homelessness. As the Homeless Continuum of Care for Central Alabama, One Roof coordinates 45+ partner agencies serving individuals who are homeless. Greer worked with these partner agencies and outside institutions—like the child welfare and justice systems—to streamline their prevention and intervention efforts. To do so, he organized a group of key stakeholders, called the Youth Homelessness Working Group, who are committed to meeting one-a-quarter to coordinate services; facilitated and strengthened One Roof’s Youth Action Council, a group of young adults with homelessness experience who advise One Roof leadership on youth homelessness issues; and designed, implemented, and wrote a Youth Homeless Needs Assessment uncovering what service gaps exist in Birmingham and what resources are available to fill those gaps.

As a result of the program:

  • Greer completed 29 Youth Homelessness Surveys and 7 in-depth interviews with key stakeholders
  • A Youth Homeless Needs Assessment Report was produced, including a quantitative and qualitative analysis of primary and secondary data (e.g., Census data, Homeless Management Information System data) not previously assembled specifically for youth
  • A partnership between Youth Action Council (YAC) and another nonprofit, the Alaquest Collaborative for Education, was developed to strengthen engagement of the 3-4 consistent YAC Members
  • A 10-15 member Youth Homelessness Working Group (YHWG) was convened with a calendar for ongoing meetings

Greer or another staff member of One Roof will continue facilitating the YHWG and YAC. Additionally, he will continue to operationalize some of the findings and recommendations from the Youth Homeless Needs Assessment, which One Roof plans to use as data for upcoming federal grants.

“Participating in the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship taught me many valuable lessons about professional life that can be distilled into three timeless idioms: “work harder, not smarter;” “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good;” and “many hands make light work.” As a health and human services employee, there will always be more work for me to do, so I have to be efficient, be satisfied that “good” is good enough, and rely on my teammates for assistance and support.

Harley Moore

Harley Moore

Auburn University, Harrison School of Pharmacy

Academic Mentor: Dr. Jeanna Sewell

Site Mentor: Sarah Grace Walters

Site: Auburn University Food Bank

Harley addressed food insecurity on Auburn University’s Campus by increasing awareness of and decreasing stigma with using the AU Campus Food Pantry. Harley normalized hunger on campus by taking a broad-based approach of marketing the resource to student organizations. She also partnered with AU Student Counseling and Psychological Services to screen all new clients for food insecurity through a validated tool, “Huger Vital Signs.”

As a result of the program:

  • 74 additional students (of 767 screened with the Hunger Vital Sign) were found to be food insecure and given an opportunity to access the Campus Food Pantry
  • Raised $500 dollars and 50 cans for the pantry, which relies on donations
  • Introduced 15 new student organizations to Auburn University Campus Food Pantry
  • Distributed 300 bags of food to Auburn students

A system is now in place so that all new student clients of AU Student Counseling and Psychological Services (SCPS) will be screened for food insecurity. This protocol will allow a staff member from SCPS to contact Auburn Cares to connect those seeking services, and a staff member from Auburn Cares will follow up with students to arrange services.

Emily Munn

Emily Munn

Auburn University, School of Kinesiology

Academic Mentor: Dr. Melissa Pangelinan

Site Mentor: Lori Marine

Site: Girls on the Run- Lee County

Emily ran two programs for Girls on the Run in Lee County; first, in Fall semester, she created a fully inclusive program for 11, 3rd-5th grade girls. By the end, all eleven girls completed the 5k to the best of their ability as well as created friendships and gained self-confidence. This spring, Emily is in the process of running an inclusive program for six (6) middle school girls. Importantly, both groups have succeeded while following safety protocols to prevent COVID. As an additional part of this program, she has prepared a tips and tricks guide for inclusive coaching in the Lee County program. This guide, along with representative advertising should help more girls with disabilities be included in the future. Over the course of the year, Emily also aided in a tutoring program with 2019-2020 Fellows and helped a 2020-2021 Fellow with coding for his project, demonstrating the collaborative spirit and support between Fellows.

As a result of the program:

  • 11 girls in 3rd-5th grades completed the fall program with 94% attendance.
    • Two girls with Down Syndrome were a part of this group and reported feeling included. One noted in the post-program interview that she was so thankful to have real friends.
    • All 11 girls had a change in the words they described themselves, from beginning with “3rd, 4th, 5th grader, student, not good at sports, and quiet/shy” to “Strong, resilient (a team word all year), confident, and powerful” at the end.
  • Six Girls in 6th-8th grade girls have begun the spring program with 100% attendance so far.
    • 2 girls with learning disabilities are in the program.
    • Common starter words are “Lonely, loud, outgoing, not good at running or sports, organized”. Emily anticipates seeing an improvement in self-concept by the end of the program in May.

Emily’s project is continuing this spring including two teams that promote inclusive fitness for all girls. In addition, she has created flyers and coaching tips that target girls with disabilities for use in future years.

“Before the program began, I was excited to learn and grow from this group. Once COVID hit, I was scared it would become just another thing to figure out and slog through. However, in a year of confusion and chaos, ASF became the joy of my week, an outlet to safely serve my people. Beyond that, I was able to learn from the other Fellows who were all in different fields and projects. I have learned so much about different areas in which the fellows are passionate. Finally, Kristin helped us understand what it truly means not just to care for others, but to take care of ourselves during our work. This knowledge is vital and has already become part of my weekly life.”

2020 Alabama Schweitzer Fellow Ana Ospina, sitting face forward in a chair.

Ana Ospina

UAB School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Dr. Raquel Mazer

Site Mentor: Dr. Carly McKenzie

Site: UAB School of Dentistry

Ana created a Dental Spanish curriculum, implementing it through the four years of the UAB School of Dentistry curriculum with the support of the administration. To achieve this goal, she first developed content for four (4) lectures with voiceovers focused on teaching basic dental Spanish to aspiring dentists. With faculty involvement, she delivered all the lectures to the D2, D3, and D4 classes and has introduced the first lecture to the D1 class who will begin phasing in the material in a more consistent fashion. Ana also created an associated cheat sheet for each lecture so that students could utilize the material in the clinic. An IRB application was approved to survey the students on their thoughts and comprehension of the Spanish to improve the lectures moving forward.

As a result of the program:

  • Introduced Dental Spanish material to 282 pre-doctoral dental students
  • Developed 4 lectures to introduce Dental Spanish, focusing on common patient interactions
  • Created methods to measure efficacy of the material implemented, including an IRB-approved study of the comprehension and perceived value for each lecture
    • 265 students (94%) believed this material was important for them to learn
    • 251 students (89%) improved comprehension
    • 166 students (59%) now feel comfortable using the material with Spanish-speaking patients

Ana’s project will be sustained by course directors who will continue to offer the material alongside their own content in order to mirror the lectures first-year dental students are receiving in their regular classes so that most content will be delivered before patient care starts.

“What the Fellowship has taught me is that I shouldn’t be satisfied with the “norm”. It is my duty as a healthcare professional to care for all my patients, especially those who are underserved, and to seek out the issues that my community faces. It is no longer acceptable, if it ever was, to be complacent and let my patients suffer when there is something I can do about it.”

Jean Paul Osula

Jean Paul Osula

UAB School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Carmel McNicholas-Bevensee, PhD

Site Mentor: Carolyn Williams

Site: Birmingham Ed Foundation

The focus of Jean Paul’s project was on career exposure for high school juniors and seniors at the Birmingham City Schools interested in healthcare. He conducted this project through biweekly zoom sessions covering 8 different careers (Surgery, Clinical Lab Sciences, Physician assistant, Pediatric medicine, Optometry, Dentistry, Physical Therapy, and Nursing). These sessions were live for students to join and also recorded for the teachers to use in their other classes. He also provided resources for teachers who requested other materials for the students, which resulted in reinstating a tutoring project that a previous fellow had begun. In this endeavor, Jean Paul paired families of high school students requesting tutoring with college students in order to help them with their school work.

As a result of the program:

  • Tutors were recruited from UAB in order to provide 17 families with free online tutoring.
  • 53 students and 4 teachers learned about one or more healthcare careers through the Career Spotlight Series

The Summer Health Professions Education Program at UAB–which consists of new college students every year who are interested in healthcare—will continue components of Jean Paul’s project, such as working with Birmingham Ed Foundation to provide tutoring for Birmingham City School students. In addition, the recordings of the Career Spotlight Series will be available for the health science academy coordinators to use for years to come.

My time as a Schweitzer Fellow taught me the importance of serving based on the community’s needs above all else. In order to do that, it requires being adaptable and resilient to the obstacles you may encounter. This needs-based approach is something that I will carry not only into future community service, but also into my future career as a healthcare professional. I plan to first and foremost, cater to the patient’s needs in order to truly make a difference.

A headshot of Mayowa Otuada, a current Alabama Schweitzer Fellow whose project provides an online support group for mothers with postpartum depression.

Mayowa Otuada

UAB School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Dr. Lisa Pair

Site Mentor: Dr. Candace Knight

Site: Nurse Family Partnership

Mayowa addressed post-partum depression by creating an online support group where first-time, low-income mothers served by Nurse Family Partnership could go for additional resources and understanding. Due to COVID, Mayowa was unable to visit with clients in-person and worked hard to develop trust with women and to normalize the challenges of motherhood. Mayowa curated a series of mental health-related websites, list of local resources, and discussion prompts, creating a calendar so that the group could continue after her year of service.

As a result of the program:

  • Based on the recent assessment, more than 15 members of the Strong Family program have less anxiety and depression, indicating improved mental health.
  • Moms served by Nurse Family Partnership have improved their coping skills by learning how to seek support from each other using the online support group

The Strong Family support group will continue, as Mayowa has recruited a newly-graduated NFP member to serve as its administrator. Mayowa is training this volunteer on how to generate meaningful content and to keep moms engaged in the group.

“Being a Schweitzer Fellow has taught me that it is better to serve than to be served. I have learned a lot while serving NFP mothers. Now, I know more about this population and how to better advocate for them. I have gained more insight about women’s health and a lot more outside of my profession. The experiences I have learned in almost a year being a Schweitzer Fellow mean a lot to me and because of this, I will continue to serve my community.”

Hadiyah Page

Hadiyah Page

UAB School of Public Health

Academic Mentor: Dr. Christianne Strange

Site Mentor: LaCrecia Day

Site: Impact Family Counseling

Hadiyah sought to address the impacts that trauma, such as exposure to gun violence, has on youth by using the expressive arts as an outlet. She used various artistic mediums as a way for 7th-9th graders at Tarrant High School to identify and express their emotions and to set goals for their future selves. The program allows participants to discover and showcase their own interests, such as through a concluding talent show. As Hadiyah shared, “One of my eighth graders sang for me. She’s usually reserved and protective of her thoughts, so I was grateful that she was comfortable enough with me to share her gifts. I’m hopeful that these experiences and lessons are shared among my students.”

As a result of the program:

  • 17 students improved conflict resolution skills and felt more resilient when facing school and interpersonal challenges
  • 26 students had a positive self-image
  • 14 students reported self-efficacy for setting and achieving goals

“My efforts to enhance positive health outcomes for Birmingham’s youth helped me grow into my role as a healthcare professional, purposeful educator and conscious citizen. It was an honor to serve as a Fellow. And I will continue to use this experience to assess, analyze and address the complex issues of our community to improve population health and well-being.” 

Bhumika Patel

Bhumika Patel

UAB School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Dr. Raquel Mazer

Site Mentor: Debbie Morgette

Site: Blazer Kitchen at Hill Student Center

Bhumika worked to improve the nutrition of UAB graduate students who shopped at the campus food pantry, Blazer Kitchen. To accomplish this, she conducted cooking demonstrations using My Plate Recipes, videos and other resources; provided workshops on nutritional content of food items, food product dating, and how to interpret nutritional labels along with its applications in grocery shopping. She also taught weekly meal planning so participants could prepare a whole week’s menu using food pantry supplies and supplemental foods, and provided virtual grocery store tours so they could locate healthy foods when shopping. All the participants attended ten, two-hour virtual classes where they learned to make healthy food choices through My Plate resources and basics of nutrition and cooking skills they could apply at home. By the end, all participants demonstrated what they learned by preparing a healthy meal and sharing recipes.

As a result of the program, among the 15 participants:

  • All 15 self-reported learning more about a balanced diet and interpretation of nutritional labels
  • All 15 demonstrated making healthy lifestyle changes via planning meals weekly & cooking at least one meal on weekends
  • In addition, the Blazer Kitchen food pantry is better equipped to help all students make healthier food choices by sharing My Plate resources and videos Bhumika created through their website

Blazer Kitchen has posted short videos on how to choose healthy food and has made other diet and nutrition resources available for every Blazer Kitchen shopper on the Student Outreach website, which will help sustain the “Healthy Eating With MyPlate” program.

“My time as a Fellow has been a period of growth and learning. Being an Albert Schweitzer Fellow served as a constant reminder of “The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion and the will to help others”. Healthy eating is very crucial for overall good health. All the participants’ active participation and enthusiasm by preparing at least one meal and sharing the pictures, taking quizzes etc. inspired me to develop new lesson plans that were both enjoyable and very impactful.”

Tanya Nix

Tanya Nix

UAB School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Dr. Debra Bowers

Site Mentor: Tonya Judson

Site: The Foundry

Tanya assisted The Foundry’s medical clinic, provided by the UAB School of Nursing, with transitioning from paper charting to an electronic medical record called Apricot. Over the last 9 months, all residents from all three clinics under The Foundry have had past paper records converted to Apricot. Most of the patient’s demographics and past medical history are now available in Apricot, which went live on February 1st, 2021. Since then, Tanya has focused on revising anything in the Apricot template to make charting and retrieving past clinic visits more user friendly. Apricot has also allowed the providers to run special reports to analyze any data that might be needed to evaluate the clinic’s overall operation.

As a result of the program:

  • Improved workflow for the providers, reducing the time to find past records and medications, to record the plan of care for the visit, and the potential for medical errors
  • Improved quality care outcomes for the patients
  • Reduced costs, such as for unnecessary repeat labs
  • Produced reports to validate continued funding and to acknowledge benefits of having clinics

This project will be continued with the Apricot EMR being utilized in The Foundry Clinics. UAB School of Nursing undergraduate and graduate students, as well as two new Albert Schweitzer Fellows, will continue to be involved in The Foundry adding any questionnaires or other pertinent items to Apricot or in efforts to continue improving the clinic’s overall flow.

“As an AS Fellow, I have learned the importance of providing quality care to underserved communities who are the population that are most affected by the healthcare crisis we are experiencing and who have the most limited resources. The Foundry has a high patient population with mental health diagnoses and some form of substance abuse. I have learned working with this population how their addiction and mental illnesses have been learned or inherited by circumstances they could not control. These patients have been very respectful, thankful, and motivated to change the path that they were given.  The clinic providers have demonstrated compassion and an interest in the Foundry patients’ success and wellbeing.  This has inspired me to become involved in volunteering at The Wellhouse with human trafficking victims and with Trafficking Hope at my church in attempts to have an impact in decreasing the number of victims who are similar to those at The Foundry. I hope to become involved politically in passing policies in efforts to improve this crisis that is present in our own city.”

Lita Waggoner

Lita Waggoner

The University of Alabama School of Law

Academic Mentor: Allyson E. Gold

Site Mentor: Nell Brimmer

Site: Legal Services Alabama

Lita laid the groundwork for the Rural Health Justice Project, one of the state’s first medical-legal partnerships (MLPs). MLPs embed lawyers in healthcare settings to resolve patients’ health-harming legal needs. Lita worked with both Legal Services Alabama (LSA) and the Rural Health Medical Program, Inc. (RHMPI) throughout her fellowship year. Through this project, RHMPI refers eligible patients to LSA for free civil legal assistance. Lita trained lawyers, law students, public health students, and RHMPI’s staff on involving lawyers in the fight against health inequity. She also organized virtual legal clinics, completed intake paperwork for clients, and created promotional materials and legal screening tools. She hopes the Rural Health Justice Project will continue to grow and serve more rural Alabamians over time.

As a result of the program:

  • 67 of RHMPI’s staff members have been trained on spotting patients’ health-harming legal needs and how to refer patients to LSA for help.
  • Rack cards, posters, and legal screening tools were developed for use in RHMPI’s health clinics to raise awareness of LSA’s services, so RHMPI patients can now access information about LSA’s free civil legal services in any of the health clinics’ waiting rooms.
  • 34 students, recent graduates and professors from both law and public health, received training on the medical-legal partnership model; using legal advocacy to address the social determinants of health; and cultural competency when working with rural populations.
  • In addition, 3 law student volunteers were trained and assisted with a pro bono legal clinic
  • LSA met with 4 prospective clients, and 1 client received estate planning services from LSA.

Through a generous grant from Equal Justice Works, Legal Services Alabama has hired a Rural Summer Legal Corps Fellow to continue the Rural Health Justice Project over the summer. LSA continues to collaborate with the Rural Health Medical Program, Inc. to find solutions to the problems of poverty in Alabama’s Black Belt region.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship has introduced me to smart, compassionate people from a wide variety of professions. Each of us brings something different to the table, but we all care deeply about the health and well-being of our communities. I am so thankful that the Schweitzer Fellowship brought us together, and I look forward to supporting one another as Fellows for Life as the years go on.”

Autumn Beavers

UAB School of Medicine

Beavers is focusing on improving the promotion of Health Sciences among students of the Academy of Health and Sciences Program at Carver High School through the development and implementation of a curriculum that strengthens students’ academic skills and increases exposure to and interest in professional health careers. Additionally, the program will seek to foster a strong sense of community and support as well as address issues such as self-esteem, academic confidence, professional development, and community involvement.

Community Site: Academy of Health Sciences-Carver High School

Domecia Brown

Samford University McWhorter School of Pharmacy

Brown will address risk factors for cardiovascular disease with a primary focus on improving uncontrolled hypertension and diabetes through medication education, drug adherence, and lifestyle modifications. The program will take place in Jefferson County’s 35211 zip code, which is known to have the highest prevalence of cardiovascular disease and stroke. The program will address nutrition education, incorporating physical activity, and adhering to current medication. The goal is for participants to understand their current condition and to establish healthy behaviors to prevent it from progressing to a more serious illness. Ultimately, the program will empower the participants to become proactive about their health and improve their quality of life.

Community Site: More Than Conquerors Faith Church and Bethesda Family Life Center

Cayla Bush

The University of Alabama School of Social Work

Bush is addressing substance abuse in Tuscaloosa, Alabama through preventive interventions with populations at high risk for substance initiation or relapse.

Community Site: PRIDE of Tuscaloosa

Rahul Gaini

UAB School of Medicine

Following emergency department visits at Children’s of Alabama, psychiatric patients are often given a follow-up appointment at the Crisis Clinic. Unfortunately, a large portion of these patients are unable to make their appointments. Gaini is addressing the barriers that prevent psychiatric patients from attending. By identifying and alleviating these barriers, he aims to increase the number of patients that get the care they need. His hope is that he will be able to contribute to the efficacy of Birmingham’s mental health system and alleviate the burden of mental health conditions in the pediatric population.

Community Site: Psychiatric Intake Response Center at Children’s of Alabama, Crisis Clinic at Children’s of Alabama

Amber Ingram

The University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences

Amber is seeking to address the emotional and social needs of at-risk youth, including a group of children in foster care, by providing them with an opportunity to take part in community outreach and advocacy on behalf of abused, abandoned, and feral animals. This project aims to help children develop leadership skills, cultivate an understanding of social justice issues, and provide a sense of belonging and connection to the community.

Community Site: Tuscaloosa Spay & Neuter Incentive Program

Heather Johnson

UAB School of Public Health

Johnson will increase the capacity of a local women’s shelter to establish a high-quality childcare center for children ages birth to five, tailoring the resource to meet the special needs of the residents.

Community Site: Pathways

Jessica McKenzie

UAB School of Public Health

McKenzie is addressing total daily physical activity, nutrition with an emphasis on healthy snacking, and healthy coping mechanisms and decision making in middle school girls from disadvantaged areas of Birmingham through the Girls on the Run (GOTR) program. This demographic of children is at greatest risk for obesity and chronic disease, and girls tend to experience a decline in physical activity after age eleven. Through GOTR, she will use a research-based curriculum to enhance the girls’ social, psychological, and physical skills. The program culminates with girls participating in a 5K, giving them a tangible sense of goal-setting and achievement.

Community Site: Girls on the Run Birmingham

Jason Perry

University of Montevallo College of Education (Counseling)

Perry is addressing mental health issues of low self-esteem, anxiety, and social and cultural aspects that affect health such as financial literacy, education, workforce development, physical and mental health, etc. in Birmingham, Alabama by partnering with the City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services. To do so, he will create the “Birmingham Fellows”, a mentoring group of ten young men from a Birmingham City High School. These students will then use the newfound relationships, knowledge, and skills developed in the group to create and execute a community service project of their own to promote unity, leadership, and initiative.

Community Site: City of Birmingham Mayor’s Office Division of Youth Services.

Tammy Ruffin

UAB School of Education

Ruffin is providing health and financial well-being workshops for families served by Lifeline. As a former banker, Ruffin recognized that many individuals—particularly those who had low incomes—lacked the financial literacy needed to become economically secure. When experiencing financial distress, they often had health-related problems, too. Her program will seek to address both aspects, therefore, to arrive at a more holistic sense of well-being.

Community Site: Lifelines of Mobile

Edgar Soto and Rachel Tindal

UAB School of Medicine

Soto and Tindal are addressing access to higher education in Birmingham City Schools (BCS) by establishing a community-based college and career advising program. The program will provide BCS students and their families with individualized advising during their junior and senior years of high school to prepare them for post-graduation success. In addition, the program will offer enrichment programs during the summer months focused on developing writing skills and transitioning from high school to college or career. Ultimately, the program hopes to support students to and through their transition from high school to higher education by partnering with BCS, local and regional colleges, and workforce training programs.

Community Site: Birmingham Education Foundation

Larissa Strath

UAB College of Arts & Sciences

Strath is addressing dietary effects on health outcomes for those with chronic illness in the community. She will bring nutrition education and resources to high risk areas and individuals who need it most. In addition to receiving nutrition counseling and learning about food’s impact on health, participants will also be a member of a group in which cooking techniques and group meals are shared promoting a sense of community and well-being. The program aims to not only make a difference in the physical and mental health of the individual, but also create healthy habits that can be passed along to others, creating long-term health equity.

Community site: Cooking Well

Adam Archer and Carl Okerberg

Auburn University Harrison School of Pharmacy

Academic Mentors: Dr. Jeanna Sewell and Dr. Bernie Olin
Site Mentor: Laura Bell
Site: Mercy Medical Clinic

Mercy Medical Clinic is a free and charitable clinic providing primary health care services to uninsured community members in and around Lee County. After some initial fundraising and piloting, Archer and Okerberg invested in a strategically planned vaccine inventory renewable in perpetuity by generous manufacturer vaccine patient assistance programs. Working with the devoted nursing, office, and pharmacy staff at Mercy, they developed and implemented a vaccination service for their patients.

As a result of the program:

  • 200+ patients have been screened for vaccine indication to date
  • 6 vaccines have been administered to date

The staff at Mercy Medical Clinic is sustaining the vaccination service with its successful integration into normal clinic operations.

As an avid reader of public health narratives and perspectives, my expectations of what I would learn from the hands-on experience afforded by the Schweitzer program were high, and they were exceeded exponentially. Being part of this fellowship meant being immersed in a network of dedicated people and work focused on making positive change, and upon completion it has provided an empowering understanding of what it means to have an impact that I will apply from here on.” Carl Okerberg

Through this fellowship, I have been allowed to see and experience the hardships that many Americans face today. My patients, along with the staff at Mercy Medical, have truly emphasized the growing need of dedicated servants in the healthcare field. Knowledge is useful only if applied and as a health care professional, I now understand the mandate to serve to the best of my abilities.” Adam Archer

Shivangi Argade

UAB School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Dr. Sallie Shipman
Site Mentor: Cris Brown
Site: Alabama Life Start

Argade addressed cardiac arrest emergency preparedness in Alabama public schools by reinforcing CPR and automated external defibrillator (AED) education to school staff. Argade assisted school faculty through email, phone, and personalized visits to help organize and implement the cardiac emergency drills in public schools. The project included the placement of an AED on campus and education on how to use it; the creation of a designated cardiac emergency response team and a written cardiac emergency response plan; as well as the initiation of an AED/CPR emergency drill conducted by school faculty at least once a year.

As a result of the program:

  • The lives of a child were saved at two different schools because of the practice of emergency drills.
  • 27,696 student lives are being positively impacted by school faculty through the implementation of cardiac emergency drills and learning the importance of CPR and AED use.
  • 59 schools have started implementing cardiac emergency drills at least once a year.
  • School nurses have stated the importance of conducting emergency drills and feel the need to practice them more than just once a year to make schools a safer environment.

Project Lifestart, through the leadership of Cris Brown and others at Children’s Hospital, is committed to sustaining the program.

The desire to help people is usually one of the reasons people enter into a career path as a healthcare professional. However, participating in the Schweitzer Fellowship this year has also taught me that it is also incredibly important to recognize how much you can impact the community in your own backyard. This experience has taught me that service can extend outside of healthcare settings (clinics, hospitals, etc.) to create a greater impact in determinants of health.”

Meg Boothe and Shannon Polson

Meg Boothe, Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy
Shannon Polson, UAB School of Nursing

Academic Mentors: Dr. Marshall Cates and Dr. Patricia Speck
Site Mentor: Michael Lynch
Site: South Highlands Outreach Project, South Highlands Presbyterian Church

Boothe and Polson addressed the need for medical access as well as integrated primary care and mental health services for clients of the South Highlands Outreach Project (SHOP) while concurrently developing a strategic plan for a future clinic. In the interim, they connected all regularly attending participants with a primary care provider, mental health care provider, and designated pharmacy. Throughout this process Polson and Boothe also built important relationships with board members, volunteers, and South Highland Outreach Project staff to enhance their current programming methods. They provided case management to each individual participant, conducted medication reviews, and created wallet cards containing information about their mental health diagnosis and prescription medications. In addition, Polson and Boothe led a subcommittee of the Board of Directors through the Precede/Proceed Community Planning Model to explore the possibility of establishing an integrated primary care and mental health clinic. Ultimately, they networked the Board of Directors to a Fellow for Life who is starting a mobile clinic in the Birmingham area. A memorandum of understanding will designate South Highlands as a stop on the mobile clinic’s weekly schedule.

As a result of the program:

  • 20 of 20 regular participants in SHOP established access to a designated primary healthcare provider, psychiatric/mental health care provider, and pharmacy.
  • Each of the regular participants received an emergency wallet card containing information about their current medical conditions and prescription medications.
  • The South Highlands Board of Directors reached a voting decision to partner with a community agency mobile clinic to provide access to ongoing care to SHOP participants

Polson and Boothe will transition their project to SHOP’s new program manager over the summer so that the programming and project goals are sustained.

Throughout this past year, I learned the importance of humanity above all. While my knowledge, education, and expertise is so valuable—if I cannot relate or empathize with the population whom I serve, it can mean absolutely nothing. One day while I was interviewing a participant about his medications, I learned that he had been a successful author and written multiple books in his past career. That conversation has stuck with me. It is so easy to look down on someone that has been diagnosed with a mental illness or to think of them as “less than.” However, in that moment it was so clear to me how much value and brilliance is captured within their unique minds. There is much more we can relate to one another than not. In my future career, I hope to carry this experience with me each and every day.” Meg Boothe

This past year, as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, I have been guided and supported in a way that has allowed me to use my time and talents in a purposeful partnership with others. As a healthcare professional, I am cognizant of the duty to improve conditions and address unmet needs of patients, yet constrained by a continuous lack of time and resources. This fellowship provided connection with other talented professionals, valuable mentorship and training resources that synergized our talents, bringing solutions. I am amazed at everything we addressed in such a short amount of time. It has unburdened my soul to see needs met. This fellowship year is a shining example of what interdisciplinary teamwork can accomplish under directed leadership.” Shannon Polson

Josh Bruce and Alison Footman

UAB School of Public Health 

Academic Mentor: Dr. Robin Lanzi
Site Mentor: Karen Musgrove
Site: Birmingham AIDS Outreach

Josh and Alison provided free HIV tests to over 1400 people in 6 different communities across Jefferson County using BAO’s mobile testing unit. By using the unit, they were able to provide confidential HIV counseling and education while testing. They were able to expand outreach measures to include women’s shelters, bus stations, comedy clubs, universities, community events, adult bookstores, and local businesses, forming new relationships with other community organizations.

As a result of their efforts:

  • Increased HIV testing
  • Linked 4 HIV positive cases to care
  • Developed questionnaires to evaluate user’s experience and preferences invisiting the mobile testing unit.
  • Created protocols for other BAO staff when using the mobile testing unit

Birmingham AIDS Outreach will continue to utilize the mobile testing unit in providing free HIV tests across Jefferson County with the goal of expanding outreach to surrounding counties.

Through the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, Alison and I have been able to approach utilizing the testing unit from a public health context. I have learned many things during the fellowship and expanded my work experience in areas I was unfamiliar with before. I have grown as a public health practitioner and now BAO has a sustainable mobile testing project that will continue from now on.” Josh Bruce

Through this experience I have learned about the importance of partnerships between community organizations and universities in working together to improve the health of communities. Working with BAO has inspired me to continue working with community organizations once I finish school. One day, I hope to provide students with similar opportunities that challenge them to engage and work with their surrounding communities the way that the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship along with BAO has done for me.” Alison Footman

Jacob Files

University Alabama at Birmingham Medical Scientist Training Program (MSTP)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Amanda Willig and Dr. Turner Overton
Site Mentor: Anastasia Ferrell
Site: Birmingham AIDS Outreach

Files worked with a program at Birmingham AIDS Outreach called BFED (BAO Food and Education Delivery). This program works in collaboration with the 1917 HIV Clinic at UAB to provide food boxes to hundreds of food insecure HIV+ people within the Birmingham area. Files expanded the current program by providing more options for 17 clients who were also living with diabetes in addition to having HIV.

After bi-weekly calls over the course of several months, many of the clients started reporting healthy lifestyle changes as a result of his program. In addition, Files made a series of educational videos on diabetes that will be used for other clients and patients at BAO and the 1917 Clinic for years to come.

As a result of the program:

  • 100% of the clients self-reported learning more about diabetes.
  • 100% of the clients self-reported making healthy lifestyle changes as a result of the program.
  • YouTube videos that were created have been viewed 65 times and counting!

BAO and the 1917 Clinic will build upon his project by continuing to share the educational YouTube videos. In addition, BAO and BFED hopes to offer diabetic food boxes in the near future in order to offer healthier options for their diabetic clients.

As a result of my participation in the Schweitzer Fellowship, I have gained a deeper respect for the HIV+ clients here in the Birmingham area and the challenges that they face on a daily basis. It is my hope as a future healthcare professional that I will be able to positively impact patients such as these and make their lives less challenging.”

Sherilyn Garner, MPH

UAB School of Public Health

Academic Mentor: Dr. Robin Lanzi
Site Mentor: Raquel Patterson
Site: Oak Tree Ministries

Sherilyn developed and implemented Peace. Love. Youth. (in) Yoga (PLY2) for inner city youth living in a public housing community. The program was structured as a mindfulness and yoga curriculum and reached over 200 youth. Participating youth learned how to increase their self-awareness by meditating and performing traditional yoga poses.

As a result of the program, youth described the following changes:

  • “Meditation has started helping me from fighting people.”
  • “Yoga keep me calm and happy.”
  • “Meditation is something that keeps you calm.”
  • “Yoga takes bad thoughts off my mind.”
  • “Meditation…like a medicine to me.”
  • “Yoga at home help me calm down.”

PLY 2 will be sustained via a community partnership with A Friend of Mind. A Friend of Mind is a local nonprofit founded and managed by Sherilyn Garner. It will continue its work with Oak Tree youth, teaching them how to self-regulate their breathing, emotions, and behavior.

I’m reminded of a quote by Leo Tolstoy, who said:Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself. If we don’t change, we don’t grow, and if we don’t grow, can we say that we’re living?’ Because of my fellowship experiences I have changed, grown, and now am living stronger in my truth of a mental illness survivor and mental health advocate.”

Amy Hudson and Nicole Lassiter

University of Alabama School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. Hussein Abdul-Latif
Site Mentor: Justin Johnston
Site: Community of Hope Health Clinic

Amy and Nicole piloted a holistic diabetes education program at Community of Hope, a free health clinic in Pelham. Nicole grew up watching her father manage his diabetes, which inspired her to develop a class curriculum that empowers patients to manage their diabetes. As a Type 1 diabetic herself, Amy understands that each individual has unique factors that affect their diabetes management. Amy and Nicole developed bilingual diabetes education classes focused on nutrition, exercise and stress management. Participants attended one-on-one sessions after each class to develop individualized plans to put the knowledge they learned into action.

As a result of their efforts:

  • 5 class participants reached their target A1c or weight loss goals
  • 2 patients transitioned into careers more accommodating for diabetes management
  • Development of a diabetes curriculum that can be used in the future

My time as a Schweitzer fellow has been a period of growth and learning. I’ve learned about service, community, patients, and myself in the process. I am happy to have heard the stories of so many wonderful people and received excellent advice from my mentors. I look forward to applying what I’ve learned to better serve patients and my community in the future.” Nicole Lassiter

Raina Jain and Michelle Kung

Raina Jain, UAB School of Public Health
Michelle Kung, UAB School of Health Professions

Academic Mentor: Dr. Cayce Paddock
Site Mentor: Ashleigh Lockhart
Site: Sumiton Middle School

Jain and Kung taught life skills such as communication, coping, and time management to 6th, 7th, and 8th grade students at Sumiton Middle School. They taught ~350 students during their 2018-19 school year (from Sept-April), discussing methods for students to better cope with their everyday stressors: social pressure, school work, toxic relationships with friends and family, and more. Kung and Jain used the classroom time to introduce topics, providing links to websites and hotlines where students could access additional resources and help, if needed. They also provided small group sessions for 14 students to facilitate further discussion and application of classroom lessons.

As a result of the program:

  • 222 students practice at least one coping skill every day
  • 223 students improved communication skills
  • 255 students feel more knowledgeable about the risks associated with opioid misuse
  • 12 of 22 (55%) students that have ever misused prescription medications, reported decreased use of opioids over the past 3 months
  • 50 of 63 (79%) students that have ever tried cigarette smoking, reported decreased use of cigarette smoking over the past 3 months
  • 77 of 118 (65%) students that have ever tried vaping, reported decreased use of vape products over the past 3 months
  • 75 of 110 (68%) students that have ever drunk alcohol, reported decreased consumption of alcohol over the past 3 months

I’ve learned that you don’t need to be an expert to have a positive impact, if you approach the community with cultural humility, a willingness to learn and listen, and a sincere desire to help.” Raina Jain

This experience has changed how I view the opioid epidemic in America. As a student, the impact of the opioid epidemic is taught to us – through this fellowship, I was able to learn how opioid abuse can impact families, particularly the children, on a personal level.” Michelle Kung

Madilyn Tomaso

University of Alabama School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. Sarah Morgan
Site Mentor: Mrs. Kathryn Strickland
Site: Central Alabama Community Food Bank

Madilyn improved the consumption of fruits and vegetables in adults at the Central Alabama Community Foodbank’s Corner Market by creating wrap-around services and individualized goal monitoring. Tomaso developed a curriculum to help instruct participants at the market on nutrition, physical activity, food waste, and other health-related topics. This curriculum was introduced so that participants could make informed decisions while they shopped at the market. A sample of the participants were selected for individualized goal monitoring, including monthly motivational calls and incentives. Through her encouragement, participants established a community walking group. Madilyn also worked with the Foodbank’s Summer Meal Program sites. She developed a curriculum titled “Summer Food, Summer Moves” which focused on choosing healthy snacks, increasing water consumption vs sugary drinks, increasing physical activity and reducing screen time. At the site Ms. Tomaso met regularly with children ages 5 to 15. Students were placed in developmentally appropriate groups for instruction on a variety of topics, such as playing outdoor games, drinking more water, and eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, and community gardening.

As a result of her efforts:

  • 7 out of 7 participants at the Corner Market who were followed for monthly goal monitoring had an improvement in at least one of the following: increased fruit and vegetable consumption by one or more servings per day, increased physical activity to at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic physical activity, increased self-reported meal planning and meal preparation, and/or report zero avoidable losses of products purchased at the market.
  • Established a community walking group with 13 committed participants.
  • 9 of the 17 students in the Summer Meals Program accomplished at least 2 of the 4 behavior changes: increase consumption of fruits and vegetables by one or more servings per day, replace sugary drinks with water, increase physical activity to the recommended 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity per day, and/or reduce screen time by 1 or more hours per day.

The “Summer Food, Summer Moves” program will be sustained by the local summer meal program site for future summer activities as well as the Central Alabama Community Food Bank. The Corner Market wraparound services will be sustained by the Central Alabama Community Food Bank and will serve as a template for future services.

As a future physician it is my duty to learn the art of medicine, which is the balance between science and human compassion. The Schweitzer fellowship has provided me the opportunity to develop this skill as I served my community and as Dr. Schweitzer said, ‘The purpose of human life is to serve.’”

Hamilton Behlen

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Diane Feagin
Site Mentor: Melodie Echols
Site: Norwood Resource Center

In the first phase of her project, Hamilton conducted cooking demonstrations and nutrition lessons for 75 children ages 4 through 13 at the Norwood Junior Master Gardener camp.  Due to the popularity of the camp program, smaller, family-oriented classes continued through the fall and winter with 11 families participating. The program encouraged families to cook more meals at home each week rather than rely on fast food or take out.  Children and their parents attended twelve, two-hour classes where they learned the basics of nutrition and cooking skills they could apply at home.

As a result of the program:

  • 75 campers were taught the importance of nutrition and introduced to new fruits and vegetables (Pilot Study, no data obtained).
  • 6 of 11 families reported cooking at least 1 additional dinner at home per week via pre and post class surveys.
  • 2 of the 11 parental units reported increased cooking skills via pre and post class surveys.

The Norwood Resource Center is sustaining the Saturday Cooking Club as a permanent community program.

“The incredible opportunity offered by the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship served as a constant reminder of why I entered the healthcare profession – to help people.  It never ceased to amaze me how eager families were to learn at my cooking and nutrition classes each week.  Their genuine appreciation for such a program in their community inspired me weekly to develop lesson plans that were both enjoyable and impactful.”

Ashleigh Burns Irwin

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Taraneh Soleymani, MD
Site mentor: Travis Stoves
Site: YMCA Youth Center

Ashleigh developed a health literacy program for K-1st graders at the YMCA Youth Center afterschool program that emphasized nutrition and healthy behaviors. This program focused on increasing the students’ knowledge of basic food groups, identifying healthy food and drink choices, trying new foods, as well as understanding the human body and how to keep it healthy.

As a result of this program:

Out of the 13 students that were enrolled in the program for the full year:

  • 10 students were able to name all five food groups
  • 11 students were able to name an example of each food group
  • 13 students were able to identify one unhealthy snack and a healthy alternative
  • 10 students were able to name 3 or more organs and describe their function
  • 7 students were able to demonstrate one or more yoga poses

The project will be sustained through the UAB chapter of the American Physician Scientist Association.

“Participating in the Schweitzer fellowship this year has given me the opportunity to be innovative and lead a project I feel passionate about, while also reinforcing the value of early intervention in the effort to eliminate health disparities.”

Katie Cassidy

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Shannon Polson
Site Mentor: Shea Wiggins
Site: Alabama’s Muscular Dystrophy Association

Alabama’s Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) provides various programs and resources for children impacted by a whole spectrum of neuromuscular conditions. Katie has volunteered for four years in various roles with the kids involved in MDA. However, Katie realized that there was a need for support of the parents. Therefore, Katie created an online parent support group called Muscles Connect to bring together parents that are often socially and physically isolated from other adults due to the full time care needs of their children. Each month in the online group, a parent shared his/her story or a speaker would talk on topics that were meaningful to the group. In addition, Catherine, another Schweitzer Fellow and local artist, conducted an in-person art session so that meaningful connections could be formed among the group.

As a result of the program:

  • 42 participants joined the online group, despite the fact that half of potential participants surveyed before the fellowship project ranked their likelihood to engage in online support groups as neutral, unlikely, or not likely
  • 29 parents became more connected to the caregiver community and less isolated
  • Parents reported the online social media group, Muscles Connect, as the second best way they are able to connect with other parents of children with neuromuscular conditions, compared to social media previously being the seventh best way

Parents have taken leadership of Muscles Connect and Alabama MDA will assist.

“I have grown significantly as person and a professional through The Schweitzer Fellowship. Participating in this program has taught me to have a deeper respect for other professions and what we can accomplish when sharing ideas. As I move forward in my professional career, I will always keep in mind the concepts I have learned through a year of service learning. I will strive to first listen to a community’s needs before trying to act upon my own idea of what the need may be for a particular group or area.”

Raymond Dawkins

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Dr. Michelle Robinson
Site Mentor: Dr. Elaine Sides
Site: Christ Health Center

Throughout the fellowship I taught parents and children about the benefits of oral health through numerous health fairs, one-on-one educational sessions with parents, and oral hygiene instruction with the children. I conducted a large portion of my outreach efforts at Lovelady Women’s Center in order to create awareness of the Medicaid dental benefits available for children and to instruct parents on age appropriate methods to take care of their child’s teeth.

As a result of the program:

  • 52 pediatric patients were connected to a dental home and received treatment at Christ Health Center
  • 40 children measurably improved oral hygiene habits

The project may be continued through a School of Dentistry student organization as an on-going oral health community service initiative for underserved communities in Birmingham.

“This fellowship experience has taught me a great deal about myself and the ability that we all have to do something truly impactful. Throughout my project I have learned how to effectively communicate preventative health information to underserved populations, design health educational materials, and actively engage young children. In addition to the practical skills that I have gained through my service, I have grown from my experiences with other Fellows. This fellowship has served as an opportunity to step outside of the confines our respective academic programs to interact with a group of peers that share a common ethos, but with differing perspectives and capabilities. This type of multidisciplinary collaboration is essential to solving the world’s health problems and as a future health professional, I will continue to seek opportunities to learn in this way.”

Bhakti Desai

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Dentistry

Academic Mentor: Dr. Allen Conan Davis
Site Mentor: Schelli Francis
Site: Cahaba Valley Health Care

Bhakti worked to improve the oral healthcare of the patients at Cahaba Valley Healthcare Clinic by providing oral health education to the patients at the Sunday clinics and setting personal goals for the patients to accomplish in the span of a month. This project later expanded to a free medical clinic (Equal Access Birmingham) where Bhakti continued to provide oral health education and is working to implement screening care for the patients, as well.

As a result of the program:

  • 81 patients received counseling regarding preventive oral healthcare and treatment options
  • 67 patients achieved their individual oral health goals within one month. These goals ranged from increasing water intake and decreasing sugary beverage intake to improving their current oral hygiene practices by, for example, brushing twice a day.
  • Created a bi-lingual oral health education curriculum centered on preventive oral healthcare.
  • Created a smoking cessation handout for Cahaba Valley Healthcare Clinic to use as needed

Bhakti will transition this project to the Academy of General Dentistry chapter at UAB as an ongoing service project.

“This experience has taught me the importance of patient-centered care and tailoring treatment to the individual patients specifically. Taking the time to actually listen to patients and understand where they are coming from can make an incredible difference in the treatment goals for that patient.”

Caroline Fuller

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Hussein Abdul-Latif, M.D.
Site Mentor: Sally Allocca
Site: East Lake United Methodist Church

Caroline addressed childhood nutrition and exercise in the East Lake community by adding a nutrition curriculum to PEER, Inc’s summer camp. This program helped children from 2nd grade to high school learn how to exercise safely and eat healthy given their limited access to food and materials. She then led small group sessions with the East Lake After School program, with sessions on healthy cooking demos, sports lessons led by college athletes, and some yoga and pet therapy.  Students were empowered to take care of their bodies and their minds, while also sharing what they learned with their families, leading to a larger change in the community.

As a result of the program:

  • 35 students increased consumption of 3 or more healthy foods per week
  • 30 students replaced one more sugary beverages per day
  • 30 students increased physical activity for 30 minutes 3 or more times per week

A UABSOM student will continue the nutrition and physical education lessons through East Lake Tutoring Program for her Health Equity Scholars Project.

“Graduate school tends to be a selfish time, where the focus is growing your own wealth of knowledge. Schweitzer has allowed an opportunity to not only serve a population, but to be around other students who are also passionate about creating change. My experience being a Schweitzer Fellow has opened my eyes to many potential projects that one could take on. It seems that every week I see another project that I could do. While this can be discouraging, I have realized that seeing these opportunities, for a lack of a better word, is a really cool way to live. My dad has always said that being comfortable is a bad thing. If I am just living day by day being “comfortable” in my world and not acknowledging the challenges other people are facing, I am doing a disservice to myself. After this fellowship, I plan to stay out of my comfort zone, see the challenges that humans face, and do my best to lend that helping hand. Realistically, I know that throughout my life, I will not solve all humanities’ problems, but I feel optimistic that just seeing them and acting in whatever way I can, will lead to a more fulfilling life.”

William Gafford and Newton Tinsley

Samford University, Ida Moffett School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Amy Snow
Site Mentor: Lindy Cleveland
Site: Unless U

William and Newton addressed unmet medical needs for approximately 52 adults with developmental disabilities at Unless U by implementing preventative measures to optimize their physical well-being. The Fellow’s project focused on developmentally appropriate teaching of physical fitness and hygiene. They implemented a daily walking program as well as multiple interactive hand hygiene classes using Glo-Germ to facilitate evaluation of proper learning. Their project also prepared teachers/staff for medical emergencies that may be encountered from this vulnerable population. Gafford and Tinsley obtained an automated external defibrillator (AED) with a donation by Alabama LifeStart and taught teachers/staff the proper function and use of the device along with basic life support training.

As a result of their efforts:

  • 1 AED donated to Unless U from Alabama LifeStart
  • 7 out of 7 staff demonstrated correct CPR, ability to locate AED, and proper use of equipment in the event of an emergency (staff’s knowledge increased 67% on CPR/AED/emergency management).
  • 7 out of 7 staff rapidly and properly responded to a student’s seizure that occurred after our teaching on emergency management skills (staff more quickly and simultaneously stabilized the student in left lateral position, managed the students airway, and quickly cleared the scene of other bystanders while calling for proper medical personnel).
  • Student’s hands were 61.6% cleaner* (i.e., 61.6% reduction in germ-affected areas) after hand hygiene instruction
  • 0 out of 52 students were diagnosed with the flu since the hand hand-washing project began in August of 2017 (compared to 3 out of 52 students the previous year).
  • 40 out of 40 students increased physical activity by 30 minutes 3-4 times per week (beginning in July 2017-present). Staff also perceived increases in student energy (34%) and focus level (42%) after 8 weeks on the walking program.

The program will be sustained by the staff at Unless U and through the Fellows’ appointment to the Junior Board of Unless U. The school hired a full time teacher (Coach K) to solely focus on offering electives geared toward optimizing the well-being of the students and has partnered with the local YMCA who gave the students free memberships along with teaching special classes for them bi-weekly.

“This past year has been tough, but it has been one of the most rewarding times of my life! I love nothing more than spending a day at Unless U and seeing all the happy faces and doing what I can to help make these special individuals healthier. Being an Albert Schweitzer Fellow has helped me realize the impact that an individual can make on community organizations in need. Participating in this fellowship has been an eye-opening experience on how loving/serving others can truly benefit you more than any selfish plans that you may have for yourself. I think Newton and I are especially good at interacting with adults with special needs whenever we encounter them in clinical practice or out in public, and we both plan to continue advocating for vulnerable populations in and out of the hospital. I would like to thank the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship for helping cultivate in me a giving spirit that will reside in me for the rest of my life.”  William Gafford

“Unless U Strong! I learned over the past two years that not only are they strong, but also that helping to improve their well-being would be one of the great joys of my life. From the hugs and fist bumps, to the basketball games and daily walks, and finally to the dancing and singing, helping the students achieve their BEST has directly helped me achieve my BEST. It has truly been amazing to see how God has blessed our project and the school. The fellowship taught me to listen carefully to the needs of vulnerable communities, stay focused and goal oriented, and helped me to demonstrate project outcomes. Through our monthly meetings and fellowship retreats, I have learned so many valuable lessons about community engagement and responsibility. Finally, it’s my desire to live my life as Dr. Schweitzer prescribed ‘reverence for life does not allow the scholar to life for his science alone … it demands from all that they should sacrifice a portion of their own lives for others.’” Newton Tinsley

Jasmine Grayson and Micah Thomas

Tuskegee University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health (Occupational Therapy)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Jannette Lewis-Clark
Site Mentor: Mr. Guy Trammel
Site: Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven

Micah and Jasmine increased the physical activity and decreased unhealthy eating habits of 9 children in the Macon County area. This was an expansion of a 2016-2017 Schweitzer project. The Fellows hosted weekly sessions, where they educated the children on healthy food options, gardening, and engaged the participants in weekly physical activity. The participants were also involved in a gardening competition, where they received 2nd place for their crops and knowledge about how they were grown. Micah and Jasmine also worked with the participants’ families to deliver healthy food options for them to try.

As a result of the program:

  • 8 out of 9 children showed an improvement in fruit and vegetable recognition via a pre- and post-test. 1 child was unable to be re-evaluated due to unavailability.
  • 9 out of 9 children showed a 100% increase in their physical activity levels via pedometer scores.

This project will be sustained by upcoming 5th Year students in the Occupational Therapy Department. These students plan to shift the focus of the project to healthy meal preparation.

“The greatest lesson I was taught through this experience was that the best way to incite a change in the world, is by you yourself, stepping up and becoming that changing force.” — Jasmine B. Grayson, OTS

“Seeing the excitement and enthusiasm that each child possessed was perhaps the most rewarding feeling of it all. The warming, yet educational atmosphere these children were able to interact in, made it all the better.” -Micah Thomas, OTS

Catherine Jones

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health (Epidemiology)

Academic Mentor: Nicole Wright, PhD, MPH
Site Mentor: Kaye Freeman
Site: East Glen Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation

Catherine addressed the health needs of 84 senior citizens by establishing an arts and crafts program for residents of a nursing and rehabilitation facility. Catherine led painting lessons to empower the residents to develop a sense of control and independence as they painted, to work fine motor skills for patients recovering from rehabilitation, to stimulate them cognitively, and to provide meaningful social interaction. Those who were physically able to paint learned proper painting techniques to increase independence and self-regard. This allowed residents to learn a new form of self-expression, communication, and to discover new aspects of their personalities and skills. Art lessons strongly promoted social cohesion amongst residents with their peers and were held twice weekly at two hours in duration each session.

As a result of Catherine’s efforts:

  • 15 out of 20 residents who regularly attended art class decreased depressive symptoms
  • 20 out of 20 participants increased their social interactions, including 17 out of 20 who increased time spent out of their room interacting with their peers.
  • 8 out of 20 residents went from passive participation in group activities to more active participation. 12 of 20 residents saw a decrease in refusal to participate in activities after participating in art class.
  • 15 out of 20 residents displayed artwork in the November art show, which raised over $300.00 to buy Christmas presents for residents of the facility.

East Glen has offered Catherine a part time position to continue lessons throughout summer of 2018. Afterwards, activity coordinators can use a guide she created with painting lessons and project ideas.

When I reflect on my experience in the Schweitzer fellowship I feel a sense of purpose. I feel a oneness with my fellow man that I have never experienced before. I met wonderful people who have made a profound impact on my life. I am sharing and teaching the joy of painting with others. I am grateful to serve the residents at East Glen. Limited physical condition does not mean one’s life is over.  I learned the residents are human beings who do not cease living just because they are in a nursing facility. I have learned that despite grave health conditions people can be very resilient. They have a strong spirit. They have hopes, aspirations, and want to live as normal a life as possible. They still want to socialize, laugh, and have attention paid to them. I feel determined to pursue a career in geriatrics and dedicate myself to researching methods to improve quality of life for elderly individuals. I want to use my talents and skills learned from my ASF experience to integrate artistic expression and its effects on fine motor skills, cognition, and quality of life into my research. I feel a life well lived is one where we try something novel every day and never close ourselves off to learning new experiences.”

Sherna Joseph

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health, Collat School of Business (MPH/MBA)

Academic Mentor: Pauline E. Jolly, PhD, MPH
Site Mentor: Thomasine Jackson
Site: East Thomas Neighborhood Association

Sherna implemented a health program for East Thomas Neighborhood Association residents to assist with navigation to health services, diabetes self-management education, and heart disease initiatives.

As a result of the program, 28 residents who participated have reported:

  • Increasing physical activity for 30 minutes 3 times per week for a minimum of 3 months
  • Increasing consumption of 3 more healthy meals or snacks per week for 3+ months
  • Reducing consumption of 1 or more sugar sweetened beverage per day for 3+ months
  • They can identify community health resources in the Birmingham area.

The project will be sustained through a Smithfield community-wide initiative, Project Powered by Wellness, where residents will work on the above goals as well as safe green public spaces. We are awaiting the status of a grant submission for the Mayor’s Community Challenge.

“The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has been a life changing experience. I have been able to connect and learn from the other Fellows, our monthly sessions, and Kristin Boggs. Thomasine Jackson have been a complete blessing to me. She has pushed me in a number of ways personally and professionally. My project has given me the opportunity to make Birmingham my second home. I was able to serve a community similar to my community in Miami. I am grateful for the opportunity to gain project management skills, communication, and advocacy skills.”

Koushik Kasanagottu

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Dr. Andrea Cherrington
Site Mentor: Dr. Jennifer Clem
Site: University Medical Center

Koushik developed a clinical nutrition tool for physicians to provide health education to patients especially in underserved and rural areas. The tool contains 10 evidence-based guidelines and includes tracking forms that patients can use at home to monitor their progress.

As a result of the program, 10 participants have:

  • Selected and adhered to a lifestyle intervention of their choosing
  • Reported subjective increases in energy and satisfaction

The fellowship has transformed the way I view Social Determinants of Health. By working with patients in Dr. Clem’s clinic, I’ve realized that a physician’s role in providing healthcare extends beyond the clinic visit especially if you want to improve health outcomes. This insight will shape my future career and clinical practice.”

Carson Klein

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Medicine

Academic Mentor: Caroline Harada, MD
Site Mentor: Marianthe Grammas, MD
Site: UAB House Calls Program

Carson created a volunteer program that enlisted UAB medical to visit 15 home-bound seniors in the Birmingham community. This “Senior Companion Program” provides friendly interactions and activities in an effort to counteract the effects of social isolation. Student volunteers were paired with a home-bound senior and visited them monthly. During these monthly visits the students participated in activities that focused on the interests of their senior.

As a result of the program:

  • 15 home-bound seniors received engagement and attention from September 2017 – April 2018
  • Seniors experienced the positive effects of socialization and interactions centered around their hobbies and interests rather than their health and activities of daily living
  • 25 medical students were exposed to an at-risk patient population, and learned “new insight…and better understanding of the everyday challenges of this population”, per one volunteer

The Senior Companion Program is now a service organization within the UAB School of Medicine. Two prior volunteers will continue to grow and adapt the program as needed.

“Becoming an Albert Schweitzer Fellow gave me the opportunity to create and participate in a program that I am passionate about. I was able to serve a population that is often overlooked and unappreciated and I hope to carry the lessons I learned about humility and sacrifice with me in my career as a physician.”

Meghan Pattison

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Academic Mentor: Sallie Shipman
Site Mentor: Nick Sims
Site: United Way Help Me Gro

Meghan connected families with resources they needed to set their child up for success, referring families to therapy services and counseling services for their children with newly diagnosed developmental delays.  In doing so, she improved the timely response of referrals. This is urgent because 30% of families have concerns about their child’s development and early intervention leads to improved outcomes. In her time at Help Me Grow, she helped parents navigate a system that felt foreign to them so that they knew about their options and felt empowered to advocate for their child.

As a result of the program:

  • Families’ wait times for referrals and follow up reduced from over six months to within one month
  • A resource guide exists to train future workers how to connect families with resources in the most efficient way possible
  • 10 preschool classrooms received education on how to identify and address developmental concerns

“Being a part of ASF taught me about the hard work that goes into being the holistic healthcare provider I have always wanted to be.  I now know what it takes to be a health care provider who cares for the family’s emotional, developmental and physical needs.  Because of ASF and United Way, I am better acquainted with the resources that exist in the Birmingham area that enable patients to live the fullest life.”

Jennifer Payne

University of Montevallo, College of Education (Counseling)

Academic Mentor: Dr. Judith Harrington
Site Mentor: Mrs. Tahuna Duke
Site: The DAY Program

Jennifer conducted group therapy with 5 adolescents in an at-risk school using Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Group therapy focused on coping skills for life, including anger management. Participants also engaged in craft activities, played Quidditch, and were sorted into Hogwarts houses using

As a result of the program:

  • 4 out of 5 participants are on track to finish at least one grade level by May
  • 5 out of 5 participants achieved a behavior score of at least 80 for two consecutive months
  • 3 out of 5 participants had no more than 1 day in in-school suspension per month
  • 1 participant was observed demonstrating a new coping skill in the classroom
  • 4 out of 5 participants reported using a new coping skill outside of the classroom

“As a result of participating in this program, I was able to get to know a population of children that are often misunderstood as being ‘bad’ kids. I learned that these at-risk youth are children who face a lot of challenges and take on responsibilities at home that the average child does not—so much so that going to school every day is a big accomplishment. I plan on using my experience with the fellowship to contribute to the knowledge base within the counseling profession about at-risk youth and using literature in therapy. I would not have had this opportunity without the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.”

Aissatou Barry-Blocker

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Dentistry

Aissatou Barry-Blocker will teach simple steps in personal nutrition that can improve the oral health, and potentially reduce heart disease and diabetes, in the Hispanic and Latin communities. The nutrition education sessions will coincide with the regularly scheduled health screenings Cahaba Valley Health Care (CVHC) conducts in the target Hispanic and Latin communities.

Community Site: Cahaba Valley Health Care

Taylor Baskin

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine

Taylor will work with students at Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center to improve their health and self-esteem through dance.

Community Site: Glenwood Autism and Behavioral Health Center 

Hope Bentley and Alfonso Robinson Jr.

Tuskegee University, College of Veterinary Medicine, Nursing & Allied Health (Occupational Therapy)

Alfonso and Hope will establish a project that encourages healthy behavior and promotes health education among K-12 students through the combination of reading and bicycle riding.

Community Site: Tuskegee Youth Safe Haven

Sushma Boppana

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)

Sushma will create a patient referral system, helping patients access the services which the clinic is unable to provide. Initially, she will conduct a needs assessment, interviewing both patients and volunteers, nurses and physicians. Then, she will create a screening form and note in the EMR to be used in tracking referrals. Lastly, Sushma will develop volunteer training protocol in order to sustain the patient referral specialist role.

Community Site: Red Crescent Clinic of Alabama 

Deborah Bowers

University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Nursing

Debby sought to address the delayed access to prescription medications for patients at a local FQHC. Due to transportation barriers, the clinic desires to have an on-site dispensary. Debby will conduct patient interviews to assess needs, will review charts to create a dispensary formulary and budget, and will initiate the legal approvals through two boards.

Community Site: Bessemer Neighborhood Health Center

Ayanda Chakawa

Auburn University, College of Liberal Arts (Clinical psychology)

Ayanda has partnered with eight faith-based communities to work with African American parents of children aged 5-12 years old to strengthen child well-being. This project is also being supported by the Auburn University Office of Faculty Engagement through the Auburn University Competitive Outreach Scholarship Grant.

Community Site: Macon County Ministers’ Council

2016 Alabama Schweitzer Fellows for Life Caitlyn Cleghorn and Dustin Whitaker

Caitlyn Cleghorn and Dustin Whitaker

Caitlyn Cleghorn, Samford University, McWhorter School of Pharmacy
Dustin Whitaker, University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine

Caitlyn and Dustin will implement a medication review system for St. Vincent’s Access to Care clinic that includes health education for patients and a comprehensive clinical review of each patient’s medications.

Community Site: St. Vincent’s Birmingham, Access to Care

Shima Dowla

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine, Medical Scientist Training Program (MD/PhD)

Shima will develop, implement, and evaluate a healthy living program for low-income adults with diabetes and obesity who receive care at Equal Access Birmingham. This program will employ strategies from the Health Behavior theory of public health with the goal of improving participants’ diet, physical activity, and medication adherence.

Community Site: Equal Access Birmingham

Ashley (A.T.) Helix

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health (Health Behavior)

Ashley will develop materials and provide an on-call volunteer for the friends/family members of someone who will be hospitalized for a mental health condition. The materials and volunteer will help them understand what their loved one will be experiencing while hospitalized; how they can help while their loved one is in the hospital; and how to be a support system when their loved one is released. The project will also establish a phone line that people could call if they were contemplating going to the hospital, but were nervous about the process or how it would actually help.

Community Site: Birmingham Crisis Center

Kelly McMurray

Alabama State University, College of Health Sciences (Prosthetics & Orthotics)

Kelly has partnered with a local prosthetic and orthotic clinic to hold monthly meetings with patients on health and wellness topics.

Community Site: River Region Prosthetics & Orthotics Clinic, TBD

David Osula

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine

David is developing the Academy of Health Sciences Mentoring Program for local, inner-city high school students who are interested in healthcare careers.

Community Site: Carver High School, Academy of Health Sciences

Rachel Stokes

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Public Health (Environmental Health Sciences)

Rachel will address environmental health in Birmingham by increasing environmental stewardship through capacity building and outreach events. This project will provide education and opportunities for youth in Birmingham to discover, engage, and explore their environment, while promoting behavioral changes that will lead to a cleaner, more sustainable environment for the community.

Community Site: Village Creek Society

Sarah Teitell

University of Alabama at Birmingham, School of Medicine

Sarah proposes to improve pregnant and preventive health behaviors for pregnant and parenting teenage mothers at Project Independence. She will be developing a health education curriculum that will cover various topics of interest pertaining to health during pregnancy, early pediatric health, and general women’s health to be presented during the biweekly groups.

Community Site: Children’s Aid Society              

Stay in touch!

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What is the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship?