Welcome to the new Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows
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Welcome to the new Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows

On May 6, the Tulsa chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship officially welcomed its fifth cohort, a new group of Schweitzer fellows who will spend the year addressing unmet health needs in the community. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the fellowship program pledges to support residents with little to no access to health care.

Housed in The University of Tulsa’s Oxley College of Health Sciences, the Schweitzer Fellowship is a 12-month leadership and service program for Tulsa-area graduate and professional degree students who are passionate about improving the health of vulnerable Tulsans while building their leadership skills.

Tulsa Schweitzer Fellows cohort 5
Schweitzer Fellows (cohort 5)

Each year, 10 to 15 fellows are chosen through a competitive selection process from local post-secondary institutions, including The University of Tulsa, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, Oklahoma State University-Tulsa, Oklahoma State University Center for Health Sciences and Langston University. In the first four years of the Tulsa program, 45 fellows have launched 38 unique projects, served more than 2,000 vulnerable Tulsans and contributed more than 8,000 hours to the community.

Farewells and welcomes

A digital reception event was held on May 6 to celebrate the work of last year’s Fellows and introduce the 2020-21 class – Cohort 5. The incoming cohort comprises six students from the OU-TU School of Community Medicine and Hana Clancy, a master’s of athletic training student at TU. Clancy will lead a project at Will Rogers Junior and High School that addresses mental health and resiliency among high school athletes facing the negative health outcomes of childhood trauma.

Scree shot of 10 cohort 4 Schweitzer Fellows and Rachel Gold
Schweitzer Fellows (cohort 4) and Rachel Gold

“I am so excited to be joining the Tulsa Schweitzer Fellowship,” said Clancy. “Already, I feel so connected to the other fellows in my cohort. Many of us are on similar paths: pursuing graduate degrees, wanting to make a difference in our communities and looking to grow as leaders. I feel very privileged to be part of this group and to join a larger community of Schweitzer Fellows around the nation.”

The outgoing class of Schweitzer Fellows featured five TU students. Their projects were literacy and academic support for youth residing at the transitional living facility St. Elizabeth Lodge, a poetry workshop series for adolescents at Parkside Psychiatric Hospital to help them cope with difficult emotions, and a “guided autobiography” initiative for hospice guests at Clarehouse approaching the end of their lives.

Health care access for vulnerable Tulsans

Now more than ever, the Schweitzer Fellowship’s mission to partner with local organizations and improve health care access for Tulsa’s most vulnerable populations is critical. “The reality of the coronavirus pandemic simply means the fellowship must dive more deeply into the work of teaching our fellows the skills of adapting to the current health, social and cultural situation,” said Schweitzer Fellowship Director Rachel Gold. “Fellows will work with community sites to adapt their projects to the emergent health needs of vulnerable Tulsans.”

Eleven Schweitzer Fellows and Rachel Gold in a room
Schweitzer Fellows (cohort 4) and Rachel Gold (before the pandemic)

In addition to its local work, Tulsa’s Schweitzer Fellowship chapter organized a national webinar series for emerging health leaders and Fellowship alumni across the nation to address community health needs heightened by the COVID-19 virus.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is a 12-month health leadership program for Tulsa-area graduate and professional degree students from any discipline. The fellowship exists to address Tulsa’s vast health disparities in two ways: by piloting immediate solutions through fellows’ projects and by developing leaders who have the confidence, skills and networks to address these disparities for the long haul. Fellows receive a $2,000 stipend. If you are interested in becoming a Tulsa Schweitzer Fellow or learn more about the program, visit online or send an email to rachel-gold@utulsa.edu.