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June 3, 2013

Three Rush Medical Students Awarded Coveted Schweitzer Fellowships:
Will Tackle Health Inequities Facing Chicago’s Vulnerable Communities
Three Rush Medical College students were selected for 2013-14 Schweitzer Fellowships – a prestigious service learning program that enables aspiring change agents to design and direct innovative year-long projects to help vulnerable Chicago communities improve their health and well-being. The new Rush Schweitzer Fellows are:
• Joji Kohjima, who plans to work with high school students at Instituto Health Sciences and Career Academy, where he will promote physical activity and cultural enrichment, as well as mentoring them to prepare for careers in the health care field.
• Karena Rounsaville, who will partner with the American Indian Health Services, where she will teach health education workshops to low income Native American women. 
• Ava Socik, who will address childhood obesity by implementing First Lady Michelle Obama’s 5 Simple Steps to Success,” a part of the “Let’s Move!” campaign to improve child health outcomes.  Socik’s program will be in collaboration with a Chicagoland school, and will also target parents, teachers and administrators.
Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the 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. “Thousands of Chicagoans are still falling between the cracks of our health system, and they are truly suffering,” said Dr. Quentin Young, founder and chair of the Chicago Schweitzer Fellows Program. “Even worse, wealth inequality has risen. Today, working families are not only less able to access care, they are less able to make healthy choices for themselves, from deciding where to live to what food they can afford to buy. The Schweitzer Fellowship brings the creative ideas and energy of these remarkable health students to underserved communities. In so doing, we are not only helping them address their present day needs, we are cultivating the next generation of compassionate health care professionals dedicated to making change.”
31 Schweitzer Fellowships were awarded to students representing 15 Chicago area universities and a wide variety of health professions and public service fields including medicine, nursing, optometry, psychology, social work, law and art therapy.  In addition to their community projects, the Fellows will work together in interdisciplinary teams to plan events such as public symposia and service days. “Joining the Schweitzer community is such an honor,” said Ava Socik. “We all come from such diverse backgrounds and with such a range of projects, yet somehow we all are dedicated to the same ultimate goal: serving the underserved.”
Schweitzer Fellows’ community projects are separate from and in addition to any requirements related to their degree programs.  “The Fellows have committed themselves to tasks that are in some ways harder than all their previous academic trials and achievements: working in and with communities of people and neighborhoods in great need,” remarked Dr. Arthur Kohrman, a member of the national Albert Schweitzer Fellowship board, headquartered in Boston, and chair of the local Schweitzer Fellowship Advisory Council. “It takes courage to do this and the Schweitzer Fellowship gives each of these exceptional people a chance to face those challenges to their altruism in a supportive and collegial environment, an opportunity to learn how to test and maintain their courage from those who have preceded them.” 
Information about the Schweitzer Fellows can be found at and

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