Seven UIC students named Schweitzer Fellows
Seven University of Illinois at Chicago students have been awarded Schweitzer fellowships, a service learning program for health professional students committed to helping Chicago’s underserved.
Named in honor of humanitarian and Nobel Laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the fellowship encourages exceptional students in health and human service fields to serve the most vulnerable members of society, including the uninsured, immigrants, the homeless, returning veterans, minorities and the working poor.
Each fellow will design and implement a year-long project to improve health and access to care. The seven UIC award winners will each receive a $2,000 honorarium and perform 200 hours of direct service in a community setting during their year-long project.
Throughout her fellowship year, Jenna Nechamen Heffron will be educating students, faculty and staff at Chicago high schools and City Colleges about the social barriers encountered by people with disabilities. Working with The Empowered Fe Fes, a young women’s disability advocacy group, Heffron will develop and implement workshops that help increase a positive disability identity with the public. She is a Ph.D. candidate in UIC’s disability studies program.
Dental student Somayeh Jahedi is expanding access to oral health care for special needs individuals at the Illinois Center for Rehabilitation and Education – Roosevelt by coordinating a two-part service event with dental students and professionals. Dental students will provide oral health instruction and nutritional counseling for ICRE-R students and their caretakers, while licensed dentists will provide necessary dental work for the students through an organized one-day service event.
At La Rabida Children’s Hospital, dental student Nisha Mehta is improving the oral health status of children with lifelong medical conditions, including chronic medical illnesses, developmental disabilities, and special needs, by educating and training primary care providers, hospital staff, and children on the importance of good oral hygiene and maintaining optimal oral health.
A student in the College of Nursing, Nina Metsovaara is empowering Chicago adolescents and teens at the Cook County Juvenile Temporary Detention Center by providing classes in holistic health promotion from an anti-oppression, violence prevention, and community-building perspective.
Doctoral nursing student Triniece Pearson is reducing risky sexual health behaviors by engaging young women who have received a negative pregnancy test result in sexual health education sessions at Lawndale Christian Health Center.
Annabella Vidal-Ruiz is reducing wait time for uninsured adult patients at Community Health by implementing a teleneurology program. Vidal-Ruiz is a student in the College of Nursing.
At Midwest Palliative & Hospice CareCenter, nursing student Patricia Walsh is providing therapeutic, non-pharmacological pain and stress management, and symptom relief to patients and their families with a complementary and alternative therapies program.
The Schweitzer Fellowship addresses the serious health challenges of local communities while encouraging aspiring professionals to honor their idealism. The program is administered by Health and Medicine Policy Research Group, a Chicago nonprofit that focuses on health care access of the working poor and uninsured. Since 1996, 375 Schweitzer Fellows have provided more than 75,000 hours of service to Chicago’s vulnerable communities.
UIC ranks among the nation’s leading research universities and is Chicago’s largest university with 27,500 students, 12,000 faculty and staff, 15 colleges and the state’s major public medical center. A hallmark of the campus is the Great Cities Commitment, through which UIC faculty, students and staff engage with community, corporate, foundation and government partners to improve the quality of life in metropolitan areas around the world.