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Susan Zhao, Jamie Prince, Nicole Damari, and Yousef Abu-Salha were selected as North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows in the 2018 class of 28 graduate students who will spend next year improving community health and developing lifelong leadership skills.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) announced the selection of its 2018-19 class of NC Schweitzer Fellows this week, with four coming from the UNC School of Medicine: Susan Zhao, Jamie Prince, Nicole Damari, and Yousef Abu-Salha. They are among 28 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 is a passionate and dedicated group of students who are seeking to improve health care and access to care,” said Barbara Heffner, Director of the NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Now more than ever, it is essential that we focus on developing a multidisciplinary pipeline of health professionals who have the dedication, skills, and cultural humility to effectively meet the health needs of these and other underserved people.”

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based health and/or social service organization. The NC Schweitzer program’s new class of Fellows will address a multitude of vulnerable populations including refugees and immigrants, children with asthma, adults with disabilities, adults with cancer and HIV and meet the needs for those who are food insecure as well as focus on health literacy, speech, and academic success for children.

At Cone Family Medicine, Damari and Abu-Salha are supporting refugees with disabling medical conditions in acquiring medical exemptions from the English and civics exams required as part of an application for citizenship.

As part of the Orange County Health Department Immigrant and Refugee Program and U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, Zhao and Prince are conducting health literacy workshops to help immigrants and refugees access medical care in the United States. Topics include health maintenance, chronic disease management, health insurance, patient rights, prescription and non-prescription medication, and other issues tailored to meet the needs of the participants.

Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so that Fellows can go on to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.

“Many of our Fellows go on to inspiring careers of service to vulnerable individuals and populations. Our support for them as they learn how to translate their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to actual, enduring impact is crucial to their future effectiveness in working with the underserved,” said Lachlan Forrow, MD, Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “The rapidly-growing network of our alumni – now thousands of “Schweitzer Fellows for Life” working across the country and the world – is already contributing to major improvements in the care of countless people.”

The 28 NC Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2018-19 NC Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers.

Nationally, some of ASF’s Fellows for Life include Dr. Billy Fischer, part of the first physician teams to address the Ebola crisis and who is on the board of the NC Fellowship, Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist.

The NC Schweitzer program is funded through the generosity of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Duke University School of Medicine, ECU Brody School of Medicine, NCCU School of Graduate Studies, Pitt County Memorial Hospital University Health Systems of Eastern NC, UNC School of Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and individual donors. Other US-based ASF programs are located in Alabama, Boston, Chicago, Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New Hampshire/Vermont; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.

Here is the full list of the 2018-19 NC Albert Schweitzer Fellows

Duke School of Medicine

Talbott, Maya

Site: Healthy Start Academy – Durham, Student U – Durham, and Duke Division of Community Health

Maya is leading the Triangle Health Literacy Initiative to help middle school students in Durham understand health information, increase their confidence to advocate for themselves as health consumers, and empower them to become health ambassadors. Teams of interdisciplinary health professional students provide teacher training and a collaborative curriculum.

Duke School of Medicine

Tan, Christelle and Okoli, Jackée

Site: Duke Outpatient Clinic

Christelle and Jackee are expanding Fresh Produce Program, a community food share based at the Duke Outpatient Clinic that provides food-insecure patients fresh produce sourced from local farms and community gardens, to increase the availability of food in the clinic and create a goal-oriented longitudinal program, Fresh Produce Program Plus (FPP+), for a subset of patients who are experiencing multiple food-related diseases in addition to food insecurity.

ECU Brody School of Medicine

Conley, Hannah and Smith, Hannah

Site: Lucille Gorham Intergenerational Community Center

The Fellows are addressing the increased prevalence of maternal health disparities, infant mortality, and sexually transmitted infections in Pitt County by establishing a reproductive health education program for youth..

ECU Brody School of Medicine – Public Health/Environmental Health

Beattie-Sergio, Gabriel

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellow

Site: Medical-Legal Partnership of Eastern North Carolina

Gabriel is helping rural, low-income, African-American (and other low-income) families that have children with asthma, gain control by reducing asthma attacks, asthma-related emergency department visits and asthma hospitalizations by addressing the complex social, economic, and environmental factors that influence their health and well-being.

ECU Brody School of Medicine and ECU School of Dental Medicine

Vann, Greyson and Lyle, Ashton

Site: Leo Jenkins Cancer Center, ECU ENT, and ECU SoDM

Greyson and Ashton are accelerating the dental clearance process for cancer patients so that they can begin treatment earlier, providing patient education to improve oral hygiene during cancer treatment, and leading student and provider education to improve the delivery of medical and dental care to these patients.

ECU Brody School of Medicine and ECU School of Dental Medicine

Winters, Niki and Lim, Jiwon

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellows

Site: James D. Bernstein Community Health Center, East Carolina University School of Dental Medicine Emergency Dental Clinic, Community Crossroads Center, Greenville Homeless Shelter Clinic, Vidant’s Minor ED

Niki and Jiwon are expanding an interprofessional medical-dental free clinic for homeless and uninsured patients launched as a 2017-18 Schweitzer project. Patients will screened at local free clinics for dental emergencies and referred to ECU SoDM Emergency Clinic to receive free emergency dental treatment and nutritional counseling. Patients will be referred to the James D. Bernstein Community Clinic for continued medical and dental needs.

ECU School of Dental Medicine

Hudson, Briana and Bell, Akeadra

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellows

Site: ECU SoDM and ECU Brody Infectious Disease

Briana and Akeadra are leading HIV SMART to improve the lives of HIV+ patients by providing needed dental treatment and educating them about the importance of proper oral health care. They will also train dental and medical students on common oral lesions while dispelling myths about HIV.

ECU School of Dental Medicine

Melvin, Caitlin and Yang, Bryan

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellows

Site ECU Lab School housed within South Green Elementary School, ECU SoDM, James Bernstein Community Health Center Dental Clinic

Caitlin and Bryan are initiating an on-site oral health program at ECU Lab School to include screening, education and a daily toothbrush program.

NCCU School of Education – Communication Disorders

Montgomery, Brandi and Cox, Crystal

Site: Riverside High School

Brandi and Crystal are leading “Speaking In Color” to help African American students in Durham achieve academic and professional success by providing them with bidialectal strategies to know when it is appropriate to use Standard American English versus their home dialect, African-American English for referrals to a dental home and education outreach for students and their families.

UNC School of Dentistry

Hotic, Minka and Haymore, Beth

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellows

Site: UNC Student Action Health Coalition (SHAC) Dental Clinic

Minka and Beth are partnering with the SHAC to help youth ages 14 – 17 years old access free preventive services and dental treatment, increase their oral health knowledge, and link them to a permanent dental home.

UNC School of Dentistry

Inclan, Meagan and Ashlin, Katrina

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation Schweitzer Fellows

Site: Triangle Down Syndrome Network

Meagan and Katrina are improving access to dental care for the members of the Triangle Down Syndrome Network through screenings and referrals, and oral hygiene instruction seminars.

Wake Forest School of Medicine

Hemal, Kshipra and Wehner, Abigail

Site: Forsyth Adolescent Health Coalition (part of the Forsyth County Health Department) and Carver School Road Branch, Library

Kshipra and Abigail are empowering adolescents with skills and knowledge to make choices that support their long-term wellbeing and protect them from unplanned pregnancies, HIV, and STIs.

Wake Forest School of Medicine

Liebenow, Brittany and Wang, Kevin

Site: Carver High School

Brittany and Keving are impacting a historically educationally underserved population without the resources to help them excel academically and provide support for biology and chemistry classes.


About The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) is preparing the next generation of professionals who will serve and empower vulnerable people to live healthier lives and create healthier communities. To date, more than 3,400 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 14 program locations in the U.S. and one in Lambaréné, Africa. Its national office is located in Boston, MA.