Community Spotlight

NH/VT Schweitzer Fellowship Welcomes New Fellows, Celebrates 2017-18 Class

April 26, 2018 by Jennifer Nachbur

UVM Larner 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows (Photo: Medical Communications)

The New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship program welcomed new 2018-19 Fellows and celebrated the achievements of the 2017-2018 Fellows at Orientation and Celebration of Service events held at Dartmouth College on April 22, 2018.

In March, the newest class of Schweitzer Fellows from the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth College and Vermont Law School were selected. The 23 students gathered for a day-long orientation where they were introduced to the themes of economic diversity and understanding the different mindsets and worldviews associated with living in poverty, middle class and wealth, interviewed each other and discussed Fellow responsibilities, among other activities. 

The following Class of 2021 medical students at the Larner College of Medicine have been selected as 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows:

  • Raghav Goyal and Nicholas Haslett have designed a project to build understanding between the homeless population of Burlington, Vt., and the medical community through meals and other experiences where their stories can be shared. They will be working with the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity in Burlington.
  • Alice Peng and Ellen Seyller will be continuing the Step Up project run by Class of 2020 students Kirsten Martin and Lauren Donnelly, providing a 12-week nutritional-based weight management program for cancer survivors in the UVM Cancer Center’s Steps to Wellness program.
  • Max Silverstein and Georges Tahhan are promoting health and wellbeing among fathers and their young children who are participating in the Janet S. Munt Family Room’s Fathers and Children Together program.
  • Katrina Thornburgh is working with Vermont Cares to increase access to supplies and harm reduction knowledge for injection drug users in Northern Vermont by expanding mobile syringe services to Franklin County, Vt., via the Vermont Cares mobile outreach van.
  • Hannah Woodruff and Mary Ann Kelly will be teaching classes on infant and child health for pregnant and new mothers in the Lund Residential Treatment Program.

Though most of the Larner Class of 2020 fellows were unable to attend the Celebration of Service due to clerkship commitments, their projects’ achievements – and their “graduation” to Fellows for Life – were honored at the event.

  • Rachael Munoz and Erin Hunt continued a project started by a 2016-2017 Fellow called the Here to Help clinic, which they ran in partnership with the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance and City of Burlington. The clinic offered access to social support services, health check-ins, showers, clothing and food. Between May and November 2017, they held seven clinics and assisted 60 people from the greater Burlington area’s homeless population.
  • The Step Up project run by Kirsten Martin and Lauren Donnelly, run in partnership with UVM Cancer Center physicians and a nutritionist, involved the development and delivery of a 12-week weight management program for cancer survivors. Their behaviorally-based intervention focused on calorie reduction, an increase in exercise and behaviors to support diet change. The 17 women in the program lost a collective 80 pounds through the program.
  • Alejandra Vivas Carbo and Ashley Aiken worked with participants in the Janet S. Munt Family Room’s Fathers and Children Together program to incorporate wellness activities and quickly learned that nutrition and culinary workshops were most popular, so most of their sessions focused on testing out healthy recipes.
  • Connor Soderquist worked with underserved teens at the Centerpoint School and Counseling Center to provide nutrition education and culinary skill-building. At one workshop, which focused on fermentation and the microbiome, the students made sauerkraut. Their interest in this topic led to school-wide project on fermentation this spring.
  • Eli Goldberg continued the TransForm Project, launched by a 2016-2017 Fellow, in collaboration with Burlington’s Pride Center. The project, which supports the health and wellbeing of transgender Vermonters through peer mentoring, community skill shares, and online resources, allowed the training of about 25 mentors statewide.

Larner College of Medicine Schweitzer Fellows advisor Molly Rideout, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics, hosted the 2017-18 Fellows and faculty preceptors for a celebratory dinner on March 14, where she said students “shared great food and stories, and each person expressed gratitude for their Schweitzer experience, both in the boulders they encountered and in the connections they made with partner agencies and members of the community.” Rideout added that during their clinical clerkships, the now-Fellows for Life would “bring with them an understanding of these communities, which in turn will provide deeper insight about the patients they will care for.”

Schweitzer Fellows make a commitment to provide 200 hours of service (per project) conducting year-long projects that address the health needs of underserved populations and uphold Albert Schweitzer’s “Reverance for Life” philosophy.

Born in 1875 in Alsace, then part of Germany, Schweitzer was an acclaimed organist, church pastor, a principal of a theological seminary, and university professor with two doctoral degrees, who – at the age of 30 – decided to become a physician and devote the rest of his life to direct service in Africa, opening a hospital in Lambarene, Gabon, in 1913. In 1952, at the age of 78, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He died in 1965, but his legacy lives on through the work of Schweitzer Fellows and Fellows for Life.