In an era of continuing high unemployment, budget shortfalls, and greater demand for health and human services, Chicago School of Professional Psychology student Priscilla Cheng will soon have the chance to put her idealism into action. She was selected for the Schweitzer Fellowship – a program that enables service-minded students to design and implement innovative year-long projects to help vulnerable Chicago communities improve their health and well-being.
Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages service-minded students to “make their lives their argument” by addressing the serious health challenges faced by members of society whose important needs are not currently being met. In collaboration with existing community organizations, schools or clinics, each Schweitzer Fellow will provide 200 hours of direct service.
Cheng plans to create and implement a diversity focused bullying prevention program for middle school students. Each module will provide informational, experiential, and applicable skills for students to increase their appreciation and acceptance of differences.
In addition to the community service projects, other aspects of the Schweitzer Program help strengthen the Fellows’ skills and provide them with ongoing opportunities for discussions and collaboration with colleagues from a wide variety of allied health professions.
Competition for the coveted service-learning program was especially intense this year: 142 students applied – a record number – and 31 Fellows were selected. Since the Program began in 1996, 435 Fellows have contributed over 87,000 hours of service and have expanded the capacities of 170 Chicago community organizations. “Our Schweitzer Fellows’ sense of altruism and dedication to service is not only remarkable, but it is clearly sustainable” said the Program’s founder and chairman, Dr. Quentin Young. “The long-term vision for the Schweitzer Program is to cultivate lifelong leaders in service, and we are aware that a decisive majority of Schweitzer alumni remain engaged with helping poorly resourced communities well beyond their Fellowship year.”
The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program is a partnership between The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship™, headquartered in Boston, and Health & Medicine Policy Research Group, a Chicago nonprofit that focuses on health care access of the working poor and uninsured. More information can be found on the Schweitzer website, www.schweitzerfellowship.org and the Health & Medicine website, www.hmprg.org.