May 17, 2021. UNC Health and UNC School of Medicine Newsroom.
Serene Ahmad, Meghan Pavelka, and Benjamin Succop were among 25 graduate students across the state to receive North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellows.
The North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (NCASF) announced the selection of its 2021-22 class of Schweitzer Fellows, including three from the UNC School of Medicine: Serene Ahmad, Meghan Pevelka, and Benjamin Succop. They were among 25 graduate students in North Carolina who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health and developing lifelong leadership skills.
“Now more than ever, it is critically important our next generation of health professionals understand the challenges community members face in achieving health and wellness, learn how to develop initiatives which help overcome those challenges, and use their voice to advocate for our most vulnerable,” said Barbara Heffner, Director of the NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “I’m impressed with the creative ways the Fellows are addressing the gaps in our healthcare system as well as those that have surfaced during the pandemic.”
Ahmad is teaming up with Kacey Wyman at the UNC School of Social Work at the UNC Autoimmune Specialty Clinics to improve the quality of life for patients with autoimmune blistering disease. The students will provide education, increase access to follow-up care, and establish a greater sense of community support for this patient population.
Pavelkaand Succop will launch a care coordination program at the Bloomer Hill People’s Free Clinic to help patients connect with community-based organizations and medication assistance programs.
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 organization.
The NC Schweitzer Fellowship’s new class of Fellows will lead a multitude of service initiatives offering free or low-cost medical and dental care, mentoring programs for at-risk minority male youth, and support for cancer patients, new moms, people experiencing homelessness, patients struggling with chronic health conditions, and seniors with social isolation and food insecurity. They will be launching their projects in vulnerable communities throughout the state.
Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component with Fellows working closely with community and academic mentors during their fellowship year. They often serve as role models for their peers inspiring others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care.
The 25 NC Fellows will join over 200 other 2021-22 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites across the country: Alabama, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas-Fort Worth, Detroit; Houston, Los Angeles, New Orleans, New Hampshire/Vermont, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, and Tulsa.
The NC Schweitzer Fellowship is funded through the generosity of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Duke University School of Medicine, ECU Brody School of Medicine, North Carolina Central University School of Graduate Studies, Pitt County Memorial Hospital University Health Systems of Eastern NC, University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and individual donors.