New Class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows Named

By UAB School of Public Health, Friday, May 10, 2019

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) of Alabama announced the selection of its 2019-20 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Fourteen graduate students from Samford University, The University of Alabama, the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of Montevallo will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

“This is a diverse group of students who bring a variety of academic disciplines, prior work experiences and personal backgrounds to the program. But what they have in common is a strong desire to improve the health of individuals and communities and a willingness to devote much time and effort to plan a project that addresses an unmet need,” said Kristin Boggs, Executive Director of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama. “Perhaps as a reflection of that diversity, we have projects taking place with small start-up nonprofits, large established hospitals, as well as governmental agencies addressing a range of health disparities and social determinants of health. I’m already inspired by and learning from them, and I know it will be an exciting year as they live out servant leadership.”

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. The Alabama Schweitzer program’s new class of Fellows will address an array of needs including youth mentorship; pediatric mental illness; addiction prevention; chronic health conditions, and more.

Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so that Fellows can go on to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.

“Many of our Fellows go on to inspiring careers of service to vulnerable individuals and populations. Our support for them as they learn how to translate their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to actual, enduring impact is crucial to their future effectiveness in working with the underserved,” said Lachlan Forrow, MD, Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “The rapidly-growing network of our alumni – now thousands of “Schweitzer Fellows for Life” working across the country and the world – is already contributing to major improvements in the care of countless people.”

The 14 Alabama Fellows will join approximately 151 other 2019-20 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites around the United States. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2019-20 Alabama Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.

Nationally, some of ASF’s Fellows for Life include Dr. Stefan Kertesz, who leads research and education on how to improve the care of people who are homeless and who also serves as Vice-Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors; Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist.

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

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is preparing the next generation of professionals who will serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities. To date, more than 3,500 Schweitzer Fellows have delivered nearly 500,000 hours of service to nearly 300,000 people in need. Additionally, more than 100 Fellows have provided care at the 100-year-old Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Africa. Through this work and through the contributions of Fellows whose professional careers serve their communities, ASF perpetuates the legacy and philosophy of physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. ASF has 13 program locations in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa. Its national office is located in Boston, MA.