Two public health students selected to be Albert Schweitzer Fellows
July 15, 2015 by Olivia Hamilton | CPH Communications
Categories: Students, Outreach, Community, Public Health, Infectious Disease, vph, MPH, EPI, Epidemology, HBHP
The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship announced the selection of its 2015-16 class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows from the Columbus-Athens area. To follow the example of Albert Schweitzer a famed physician-humanitarian for who their fellowship is named, 18 graduates, 15 of which are from The Ohio State University, will spend the next year learning how to improve community health and how to develop lifelong leadership skills.
Schweitzer Fellows develop and put in place service projects that address the causes of different health disparities in under-resourced communities. During this time they are also fulfilling their academic responsibilities as students. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based organization. This year’s fellows will address various health issues that affect a range of populations from nutrition and wellness needs for under-resourced youth to teen health literacy.
Meghan O’Brien, a Master of Public Health student in the College of Public Health, will be spending her time at the Gladden Community House serving underserved residents. She will be addressing their nutrition and wellness needs by implementing the MyPlate dietary guidelines as a framework for her program.
“The Schweitzer Fellowship represents a unique opportunity to do some “on the ground” work aimed at alleviating health disparities,” said O’Brien. “With its focus on direct service, the Schweitzer Fellowship allows me to really get to know the people of Franklinton and develop a nutritional education program according to their interests and capacities. I’m learning how to successfully build relationships with communities that are based on mutual respect and understanding, and I think this is a skill that will serve me well as a public health professional.”
O’Brien will hold weekly nutrition education and cooking classes that focus on creating simple, healthy meals featuring food pantry staples.
“There was an existing interest in offering nutrition and wellness education for pantry clients among Gladden staff, so I pitched my plan and they went for it,” O’Brien said.
In the future, O’Brien hopes to examine factors like how food production and distribution influence what nutritional choices are available to individuals. She also would like to draft policies which would serve to enhance access to healthy foods as a means of alleviating hunger and its attendant health complications.
“I think it’s extremely important for public health professionals to familiarize themselves with the populations in they are working with in order to understand their unique perspectives, needs, and challenges,” O’Brien said.
Brynne Presser, also a Master of Public Health student will address teen health literacy at the Barack Community Recreation Center. She is doing so by facilitating weekly workshops and producing health-related radio segments for Youth Beat Radio.
“The Fellowship provides a unique opportunity to connect and collaborate with a local community and a network of past and present Fellows. I am so excited to learn from these dynamic groups and gain a deeper understanding of what it takes to engage in a meaningful community-based project. I hope that this experience will allow me to further explore how specific outcomes can impact a community’s and how we, as a community, can come together to address them,” said Presser.
Presser’s future plans include a further commitment to working with young people and increasing their access to health-related resources. After she graduates she wants to continue working with the Columbus community to empower and increase awareness of relevant health issues among local young people.
Since 2011, the Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows Program has supported Schweitzer Fellows who have delivered service and care to under-resourced populations in the Columbus area. The program is funded entirely through charitable donations and grants. Sponsors of the Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows Program include The Ohio State University; Ohio University; Trinity Lutheran Seminary; Nationwide Children’s Hospital; and OhioHealth. The 18 fellows from Columbus-Athens will join approximately 220 other 2014-15 Schweitzer Fellows working at 12 program sites, 11 in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913.