Nine UIC students named Schweitzer fellows

Nine graduate students from the University of Illinois at Chicago have been named Albert Schweitzer fellows for 2015-16.
Helping hands

The students — two each from the UIC School of Public Health, UIC Jane Addams College of Social Work and the UIC College of Nursing; and one each from the colleges of Medicine, Dentistry and Applied Health Sciences — will spend the next year learning to address the social factors that impact health as they develop lifelong leadership skills.

In addition to fulfilling their academic responsibilities, Schweitzer fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities. Projects are carried out in collaboration with community-based health and social service organizations.

The nine UIC students and their projects are:

Actress Bartlett, Jane Addams College of Social Work, will expand the SoBu (Social Business) Artist Project, in which college interns mentor high school and middle school students in the creation of mosaic art, silk screen T-shirts and bags. The goal of the project is to provide young scholars with a sustainable livelihood through entrepreneurial art and enable them to earn money for college while fostering civic engagement. Bartlett will undertake the project at American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).

Darshana Bhattacharyya, College of Medicine, plans to work with the Thresholds Young Mothers Project to create a series of bi-monthly workshops that address personal well-being, self-empowerment and disease management for young mothers and families affected by severe mental illness. The series will culminate with a small entrepreneurial project.

Nisha Garg, College of Dentistry, proposes to initiate oral health classes for veterans at Jesse Brown VA Medical Center. She hopes to raise awareness about underserved veterans and provide them with enhanced knowledge on oral health.

Megan Gordon, College of Nursing, will initiate a class for pregnant teens at Christopher House that focuses on childbirth education and empowering the young women and their partners to advocate for themselves to have better birth outcomes.

Rachel Gottfredsen Gage, College of Nursing, will develop and teach health education classes for aging adults at YMCA of Metro Chicago. By connecting aging adults with their communities, the classes will also reduce loneliness and isolation in the aging population.

Elizabeth Harrison, College of Applied Health Sciences’ department of occupational therapy, plans a community group for LGBT refugees and asylees in the Chicago area that will give them a safe gathering place and improve community integration, social support and mental health. She will conduct the project at Heartland Alliance.

Iqra Mushtaq, School of Public Health, will initiate heart disease risk-reduction workshops for refugee and immigrant South Asian women at Heartland International Health Center. The workshops will provide health education and empower women to incorporate healthy lifestyle changes.

Hannah Riley, Jane Addams College of Social Work and School of Public Health, will work as a member of an interdisciplinary team with the Health Justice Project to address environmental health dangers such as lead poisoning, mold and infestations that affect low-income tenants. The project will develop best practices for creating healthy homes.

Sarah Wagener, School of Public Health, will work with Storycatchers Theatre’s Changing Voices, an employment program that supports formerly incarcerated adolescents. The arts organization helps youth explore positive decision-making through writing and performing their own musical theatre material that explores the challenges they face upon re-entry to society. The theater is located in the Auburn-Gresham neighborhood.

Since the Chicago chapter of the Schweitzer Fellowship was initiated in 1996, more than 500 fellows have provided over 100,000 hours of service to Chicago’s vulnerable communities. The national organization marks its 75th anniversary this year.