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“Reverence for Life”: Schweitzer Fellows Aim to Address Health Needs of Underserved

April 14, 2017 by Jennifer Nachbur

Developing leaders in service is the core mission of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) program. This month, eight Larner College of Medicine students were named 2017-18 Schweitzer Fellows by the New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship.

Class of 2020 Schweitzer Fellows (L to R): Eli Goldberg, Rachael Munoz, Lauren Donnelly, Erin Hunt, Kirsten Martin, and Conner Soderquist (Photo: LCOM Creative Services)

Developing leaders in service is the core mission of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) program. This month, eight Larner College of Medicine students were named 2017-18 Schweitzer Fellows by the New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship. With that honor, they will provide 200 hours of service conducting year-long projects that address the health needs of underserved populations and uphold the “Reverance for Life” philosophy made famous by physician, humanitarian and 1952 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Albert Schweitzer, M.D.

Founded in 1996, the NH/VT Schweitzer Fellowship is one of 15 U.S.-based ASF chapters and in addition to the Larner College of Medicine at the University of Vermont, facilitates fellowships for students at Vermont Law School, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, and University of New Hampshire Law School.

The students will join other NH/VT 2017-18 Schweitzer Fellows at an orientation session on April 22. They will all spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills through the experience of carrying out their project. After completion of their projects, the students will become Fellows for Life and join an alumni network of more than 3,000 physicians, nurses, lawyers, public health specialists, social workers, pharmacists, occupational therapists, and other leaders in health-related fields.

2017-18 Larner College of Medicine students and projects include:

  • Eli Goldberg ’20 will continue to facilitate and develop the TransForm Project launched by medical student and Schweitzer Fellow for Life Al York ’19. Working with the Pride Center of Vermont, the project supports the health and wellbeing of transgender Vermonters through peer mentoring, community skill shares, and online resources.
  • Rachael Munoz ’20 and Erin Hunt ’20 are carrying on a Schweitzer Fellow project launched by Schweitzer Fellow for Life Jasmine Robinson ’19, called “Here to Help.” Working with the Chittenden County Homeless Alliance, the project involves organizing clinics to provide members of the Burlington, Vt.-area homeless population with in-person access to social support services, as well as hot meals, showers, haircuts and clothing. The end goal is a sustainable and dependable monthly program that will continue beyond their project.
  • Lauren Donnelly ’20 and Kirsten Martin ’20 are developing a 12-week weight management program for cancer survivors in collaboration with the Steps to Wellness program of the UVM Cancer Center. They will conduct a behaviorally-based intervention focused on calorie reduction, an increase in exercise and behaviors to support diet change. The project will also include the creation of nutrition and weight loss training materials that will be shared with other Larner medical students.
  • Conner Soderquist ’20 is conducting a project at the Centerpoint School that aims to increase access to healthy food and improve culinary skills among adolescents faced with economic hardship and impacted by social, emotional, learning and/or mental health challenges. He will develop nutrition education that will be paired with site visits to local farms, as well as cooking classes designed to deepen the teens’ understanding of where food comes from, train them to cook healthy and delicious meals, and to help them build a positive relationship with food.
  • Alejandra Vivas Carbo ’20 and Ashley Aiken ’20 will be designing and implementing a program that helps Burlington, Vt.-area New American teenage girls and low-income families improve wellness in their lives through the development of healthy habits based on the “four pillars” of health: nutrition, fitness, wellness and mentorship. Their intention is to empower and allow these populations to become the agents of change in their lives.

Learn more about other 2016-17 projects, including the Vermont Voices project completed by Schweitzer Fellow for Life Jacob Reibel ’19 and a project focused on educating mental health patients about the “Ulysses Clause” conducted by Schweitzer Fellows for Life Julia McGinty ’19 and Ryan Landvater ’19.

Other U.S.-based Schweitzer Fellowship program sites are located in Alabama; Boston, Mass.; Chicago, Ill.; Columbus-Athens, Ohio.; Dallas-Fort Worth, Tx.; Detroit, Mich.; Houston, Tx.; Los Angeles, Calif.; New Orleans, La.; North Carolina; Pittsburgh, Pa.; San Francisco Bay Area, Calif.; and Tulsa, Ok.. Additionally, ASF has a program chapter based in Lambaréné, Gabon, at The Albert Schweitzer Hospital.