Two students at UMass Medical School have been named 2013-14 Schweitzer Fellows by the Boston Schweitzer Fellows Program. Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences student Lauren Powell and School of Medicine student Julia Randall will use their fellowship funding to conduct health interventions for men of color and incarcerated youth, respectively.
They join 43 UMMS students who have been honored with Schweitzer Fellowships since 2001. Founded in 1992, the Boston Schweitzer Fellows Program is the oldest of thirteen Schweitzer program sites across the U.S. dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. Since the program’s inception, Schweitzer Fellows in Boston, competitively chosen from health-focused graduate student applicants in a variety of fields, have worked tirelessly to address health disparities and the social determinants of health throughout the greater Boston and Worcester areas.
Powell is tackling health disparities in men of color in Worcester through the project “Barbershop Conversations: Convene, Converse, Commit.” She will convene volunteers for training on cultural humility and the art of conversation, organize an event for oriented volunteers to converse with men of color at barbershops, and encourage participants to commit to follow-up after the event. This project ultimately aims to improve health communication among health care providers, community health workers, and male community residents of color, while simultaneously enhancing the sustainability of the barbershop health care model as a holistic community approach to improving health outcomes in men of color. She will complete the project in collaboration with Mosaic Cultural Complex, a grassroots Worcester organization founded in 2005 to improve the quality of life for vulnerable populations through holistic services, with a focus on men of color.
Randall is addressing the need for health education for incarcerated youth. Due to funding constraints, many of the current residents of the Department of Youth Services (DYS) facilities in Central Massachusetts are not receiving regular health education classes. Through a series of health-focused workshops, she will empower the facilities’ teenage and young adult residents with the information and skills they need to make healthy decisions about their bodies both during their stay and after they leave secure treatment. The program will aim not only to teach basic knowledge and skills relating to anatomy and nutrition but also to promote open and honest discussion among the youth about healthy relationships, substance abuse, and decision making; things these (and all) teens are faced with every day. Randall will conduct the project at the Paul T. Leahy Center and Department of Youth Services secure treatment centers.
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