Beth Christopherson and Matt Estey, first-year students at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW), will lead health-related service initiatives for underserved individuals and communities during 2010-2011 under the prestigious Houston-Galveston Schweitzer Fellows Program.
They are the first students from UH to be selected as Schweitzer Fellows.
"It is a highly competitive fellowship. About 50 applications were received and screened, and 15 Schweitzer Fellows offered. The local chapter of the Schweitzer Foundation, which targets the most vulnerable segments of our community, has already become an integral part of training women and men to work on interdisciplinary teams," said W. Andrew Achenbaum, a professor in the UH GCSW and a member of the Houston Galveston Schweitzer Fellows Program Advisory Board. "I am thrilled that the program has chosen two of our first-year students to initiate a social work project for needy individuals."
Over the next year, Christopherson and Estey will work to empower Houston's homeless individuals by collaborating with St. John's Bread of Life in downtown Houston to implement a program that offers employment counseling and self-care education. Their initiative will aim to enhance job skills and bolster employment opportunities, as well as improve hygiene and decrease risks of sexually transmitted infections.
Christopherson and Estey will join 200 other 2010-2011 Schweitzer Fellows across the country in conceptualizing and carrying out service projects that address the unmet health-related needs of underserved individuals and communities. Upon completion of their initial year, they will become Schweitzer Fellows for life. They will join a vibrant network of more than 2,000 individuals who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers as professionals.
Only two years old, the Houston-Galveston Schweitzer Fellows Program is the newest of the 11 U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program sites. It provides service opportunities and support for graduate students in health-related fields certified to practice upon graduation. It was initiated by Healthcare for the Homeless-Houston and is a collaboration of area academic institutions and nonprofit service agencies. Each year, about one-third of applicants are awarded the competitive Schweitzer fellowships.
Founded in the U.S. in 1940, The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship was created to support Dr. Schweitzer's medical work in Africa during World War II. Since Schweitzer's death in 1965, the fellowship has continued to provide direct assistance to the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, Gabon and, more recently in 1992, to underserved communities within the U.S.
For more information about The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, visit: http://www.schweitzerfellowship.org
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