Students named Houston Galveston Schweitzer Fellows

Two Health Science Center students selected for fellowship honoring physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer’s message of service
August 6, 2018

Michael Apolinario, a fourth-year student at Texas A&M College of Medicine, and Chinelo Nsobundu, RN, BSN, MPH, CHES,  a doctoral student at Texas A&M School of Public Health, have been named 2018–2019 Houston Galveston Schweitzer Fellows. They are among 26 medical and graduate students selected by Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Houston Galveston.

Apolinario and Nsobundu will spend the next academic year learning to address social factors that impact health and wellness in the local community, with an emphasis on the underserved. The fellowship also includes mentorship that develops lifelong service leadership skills.

Apolinario’s project site is at Blind Buddies. He has already started work with Houston’s no or low vision community, assisting them in using accessibility features on their smartphones. Two courses have already been held, and he is in the middle of conducting a third course for this group. The goal is to help this community become more connected, technologically capable and independent, thereby improving their quality of life. Apolinario is also assisting the organization in expanding to a larger area in Houston, as currently they only have one location.

“It was a great honor to receive this fellowship; this organization does a lot of good things. We get to work with likeminded people. We readily meet up and talk about what we are doing, how we can improve, it’s a really great opportunity for interested students to get involved in community service, collaborate with their peers, and to make a big difference in the community,” said Apolinario.   

Nsobundu’s project site is at Lone Star Family Health Center. She will work there with diabetic patients to develop a diabetes and wellness education program. The phase-based program includes a needs assessment, development of a strategic/implementation plan, conducting a process evaluation and an outcome evaluation.

“I am really excited about this fellowship opportunity, because it will expose me to the comparative educational experiences of peer fellows, opportunities to network, communicate, work collaboratively across disciplines and employ leadership skills in working with community-based organizations. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is an astounding program, and it is such a great and enduring honor to be given this opportunity,” said Nsobundu.

Apolinario and Nsobundu join approximately 300 other fellows at 15 program sites across the United States. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship’s mission is to partner with local community-based organizations to develop and implement yearlong, mentored service projects that improve health and well-being of the underserved. This is the largest cohort of Schweitzer fellows to date, from a broad selection of schools, disciplines and areas of study.

Launched in 1992, the U.S. Schweitzer Fellows Program is designed to honor Nobel-winner Albert Schweitzer’s legacy by addressing health disparities. Each fellow commits to a 200-hour service work through a partnership with a local nonprofit agency. This service is aligned with mentoring that further develops emerging health care professionals such as Apolinario and Nsobundu.

— Tamim Choudhury