University of Vermont

Five Teams of UVM Medical Students Named 2013-14 Schweitzer Fellows

Albert Schweitzer
Albert Schweitzer, physician-humanitarian for whom the fellowship is named

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) has announced the selection of its 2013-14 class of New Hampshire/ Vermont Schweitzer Fellows – 26 graduate students who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

This year’s class of Schweitzer Fellows will be inducted during the 100th anniversary year of the building of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon (known as French Equatorial Africa when the hospital was built in 1913). Today, the Albert Schweitzer Hospital continues to serve those in need of care, and it is a living monument to Dr. Schweitzer’s commitment to service, peace, and his philosophy of Reverence for Life.

The 2013-14 New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellows at the UVM College of Medicine – all members of the Class of 2016 – include: Sarah Johnson and William Thompson, whose project will involve vegetable gardening and sustainable, healthy food practices for at-risk kids in Franklin County, Vt.; Matthew Lin and Reiko Sakai, who will focus on mentoring LGBTQ youth in Burlington, Vt.; Nez Nesbitt and Katia Chavez, whose project targets health care for migrant farm workers in Lamoille, County, Vt.; Shravan Rao and Luke Neill, who will be working on a computer literacy project for individuals who are homeless in Burlington, Vt.; and Leslie Wenning and Janel Martir, whose project involves arts programming for women transitioning into the Chittenden County community after incarceration.

“Schweitzer Fellows are passionate about improving the health of those living in underserved communities, and they are committed to improving their own skills to do so,” said ASF Executive Director Sylvia Stevens-Edouard. “They come from all academic disciplines—medicine, law, art, policy, and research—and they are pursuing work that improves lives. Over the next 12 months, they will also learn how to be effective leaders so they can inspire others to increase the health of those who experience barriers to care. They will carry these lessons into their professional careers, and further promote Dr. Schweitzer’s legacy to show reverence for life.”

“Our Fellows were selected after a competitive process, and they have signed up for a demanding year. They are expected to design and implement projects that will address the root causes of health inequities, and they will be doing this while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities,” said New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship Program Director Rebecca Torrey. “Under the close guidance of community mentors, their projects—each of which is set in a community-based organization that serves vulnerable populations— are expected to make measurable differences on issues ranging from childhood literacy to diabetes to behavioral health.”

The 26 New Hampshire/Vermont Fellows, which, in addition to the UVM College of Medicine, include students from the Geisel School of Medicine and Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, Vermont Law School, and the University of New Hampshire School of Law, will join approximately 220 other 2013-14 Schweitzer Fellows working at 13 program sites, 12 in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2013-14 New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of nearly 2,700 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. Fellows for Life routinely report that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serving people in need.

Since 1996, the New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship Program has supported more than 350 Schweitzer Fellows in delivering nearly 70,000 hours of service. The program is funded entirely through charitable donations and grants. Sponsors of the New Hampshire/Vermont Schweitzer Fellowship Program include the Byrne Foundation, the Couch Family Foundation, Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center, Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, Grafton County Medical Society, Lintilhac Foundation, Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth, University of New Hampshire School of Law, University of Vermont College of Medicine, Vermont Law School.

Recently, 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellow and third-year UVM College of Medicine student Jesse Evangelista was featured in the Beyond Boulders blog of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

About The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is improving the health of vulnerable people now and for the future by developing a corps of Leaders in Service—professionals skilled in creating positive change with and in our communities, our health and human service systems, and our world. Through community-based, mentored direct service and a multidisciplinary, reflective leadership development program, ASF is building community capacity and training a professional workforce that is:

  • skilled in addressing the underlying causes of health inequities;
  • committed to improving the health outcomes of underserved communities; and
  • prepared for a life of continued service.

To date, nearly 2,500 Schweitzer Fellows have delivered nearly 500,000 hours of service to nearly 300,000 people in need. Additionally, more than 100 Fellows have provided care at the 100-year-old Schweitzer Hospital in Lambaréné, Africa. Through this work and through the contributions of Fellows whose professional careers serve their communities, ASF perpetuates the legacy and philosophy of physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer. ASF has 12 program locations in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa. Its national office is located in Boston, MA and hosted by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

(This article was adapted from a news release produced by Susan Ryan-Vollmar of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.)