Schweitzer Fellows of the Class of 2010

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Although there are many measures of student achievement and ambition, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship perhaps most clearly demonstrates the standards UMass Worcester upholds in its own mission: dedication to public service in the commonwealth and around the globe. Every year the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) selects almost 200 individuals from across the country whose service projects address the unmet health-related needs of underserved communities. The highly sought-after, year-long fellowships are awarded to those who show potential as “leaders in service” and use their dedication and skills to influence and inspire others. For decades, the ASF has supported emerging professionals in translating their idealism into effective action that addresses health disparities in the United States and Africa.

The Class of 2010, like those before it and those to come, includes several fellows whose experience will inform their futures as medical professionals. Their sites and projects are highlighted below.

Matthew Ingham (with Carolyn Vaughn, SOM ’11): AIDS Project Worcester, 2007-2008.
Matthew and Carolyn conducted pre- and post-test counseling, administered the rapid HIV tests at free clinics in Worcester and organized the training of other medical students to carry out this task. They also partnered with community members to start the Akwaaba Free Health Clinic to address the unmet health needs of Worcester’s African-immigrant population. In July, Matt will begin an internal medicine residency at the NYU School of Medicine. 

Lara Jirmanus: Neighborhood Strength, 2006-2007
Lara volunteered with "Neighborhood Strength: Strengthening Vulnerable Communities in the Worcester Built Environment," a participatory research project of the George Perkins Marsh Institute of Clark University, in collaboration with the Family Health Center of Worcester, the Regional Environmental Council of Central Massachusetts and other community partners. She worked with the Family Health Center of Worcester, to develop a Health Outreach Workgroup with the participation of local residents to help the Health Center increase access to health care and better serve the community. The Health Outreach Workgroup organized several focus groups to learn more about the health needs of the community, which lent insight into the gaps in access to health services in Worcester's immigrant communities. Lara also participated in other community based initiatives, including the Worcester Immigrant Rights Coalition and the United African Communities organization. Lara will begin residency in family medicine at Boston University Medical Center.

Jay Lawrence (with Darrah Doyle, SOM ’09): The Wellbeing Collaborative 2006-2007
Jay and Darrah continued The Wellbeing Collaborative, a School of Medicine initiative to educate underserved residents in the greater Worcester area about health and health care issues. They formed partnerships with community newspapers including The African Radiant and the In City Times. They published articles about relevant health topics including health care reform in Massachusetts, identifying early signs of a stroke, and recognizing when childhood illnesses require visits to a primary care physician. Articles were written by medical students with collaboration from community doctors and faculty of the UMass Worcester. Jay matched at UMass Worcester School of Medicine for his medicine/pediatrics residency. (Darrah is completing the first year of an obstetrics and gynecology residency at Yale-New Haven Hospital.)

Michelle St. Fleur: Great Brook Valley, Worcester Housing Authority, 2007-2008
Michelle served as the Director of the Center for Healthy Kids, a local resource for kids living at Great Brook Valley to learn about health and nutrition. Michelle was responsible for all programming run through the Center, ensuring that all activities have the overall health of the children as their aim. Michelle will head to the Bronx for her family medicine residency at Albert Einstein College of Medicine/Montefiore Medical Center.

In April, the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship announced that four current UMass Worcester students were selected as 2010-2011 Boston Schweitzer Fellows.

The four UMass Worcester students are:
Timothy Gleeson, School of Medicine
Timothy aims to reduce preventable oral diseases in underserved areas of Worcester by establishing a program that explores population-specific oral health beliefs and needs, and delivers culturally appropriate education and skill-building sessions. In addition to promoting oral health awareness and self-efficacy, the program will provide oral health service-learning opportunities for medical and nursing students.

Toy Lim, Graduate School of Nursing
Toy aims to address refugee health by partnering with African Community Education in Worcester to create a dynamic parents’ group that empowers newly arrived African refugees to play an active role in meeting their health and education needs. Through participation in the group, parents will have opportunities to share their experiences, identify needs within their communities, and work to identify and develop resources to meet those needs. Toy’s overall goal in carrying out this project is to improve the mental, physical and social well-being of African refugees.

Katherine Riva, School of Medicine
Katherine aims to support adolescent women in their recovery from substance abuse by coordinating a collaborative wellness and development program at Grace House in Worcester. The overarching goal of Katherine’s Grace House project is to promote stress reduction, teach life skills and connect young women in recovery with student mentors at UMass Worcester. Through workshops, classes and open discussion, this project aims to address the diverse needs of adolescent women by supplementing their focused substance abuse recovery program.

Meredith Walsh, Graduate School of Nursing
Meredith aims to improve the overall health of refugee youth in Worcester by developing a forum focusing on life skills, health literacy and job training. Meredish’s project will address refugee youths’ concerns about adjusting to life in the United States, and will establish a peer-led social support network.

Following the one-year fellowship, the students will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and will be part of a nationwide network of more than 2,000 professionals who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.

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