Three Duke Med Students Named Albert Schweitzer Fellows

Thursday, July 12, 2018
Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Logo

Three Duke Medical students will spend the next year improving community health and developing lifelong leadership skills.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) has announced the selection of its 2018-19 class of NC Schweitzer Fellows. Twenty-eight graduate students will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills. In doing so, they will follow the example set by famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer, for whom their Fellowship is named.

“This is a passionate and dedicated group of students who are seeking to improve health care and access to care,” said Barbara Heffner, Director of the NC Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “Now more than ever, it is essential that we focus on developing a multidisciplinary pipeline of health professionals who have the dedication, skills, and cultural humility to effectively meet the health needs of these and other underserved people.” 

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 health and/or social service organization. The NC Schweitzer program’s new class of Fellows will address a multitude of vulnerable populations including refugees and immigrants, children with asthma, adults with disabilities, adults with cancer and HIV and meet the needs for those who are food insecure as well as focus on health literacy, speech, and academic success for children.


Maya TalbottMaya Talbott

Site: Healthy Start Academy – Durham, Student U – Durham, and Duke Division of Community Health

Maya is leading the Triangle Health Literacy Initiative to help middle school students in Durham understand health information, increase their confidence to advocate for themselves as health consumers, and empower them to become health ambassadors. Teams of interdisciplinary health professional students provide teacher training and a collaborative curriculum.


Christelle TanJackée OkoliChristelle Tan & Jackée Okoli   

Site: Duke Outpatient Clinic

Christelle and Jackée are expanding Fresh Produce Program, a community food share based at the Duke Outpatient Clinic that provides food-insecure patients fresh produce sourced from local farms and community gardens, to increase the availability of food in the clinic and create a goal-oriented longitudinal program, Fresh Produce Program Plus (FPP+), for a subset of patients who are experiencing multiple food-related diseases in addition to food insecurity.

Christelle Tan and Jackée Okoli are both medical students in the Primary Care Leadership Track


Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so that Fellows can go on to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care. Fellows work under the close guidance of community and academic mentors during their fellowship year.

“Many of our Fellows go on to inspiring careers of service to vulnerable individuals and populations.  Our support for them as they learn how to translate their Fellowship projects from an initial concept to actual, enduring impact is crucial to their future effectiveness in working with the underserved,” said Lachlan Forrow, MD, Chair of The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship Board of Directors. “The rapidly-growing network of our alumni – now thousands of “Schweitzer Fellows for Life” working across the country and the world – is already contributing to major improvements in the care of countless people.” 

The 28 NC Fellows will join approximately 240 other 2018-19 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites around the United States, as well as one in Lambaréné, Gabon at the site of The Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913. Upon completion of their Fellowship year, the 2018-19 NC Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and join a vibrant network of more than 3,400 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. 

Nationally, some of ASF’s Fellows for Life include Dr. Billy Fischer, part of the first physician teams to address the Ebola crisis and who is on the board of the NC Fellowship, Rishi Manchanda, MD, author of the TED book The Upstream Doctors: Medical Innovators Track Sickness To Its Source; Jessica Lahey, JD, author of the bestseller The Gift of Failure: How the Best Parents Learn To Let Go So Their Children Can Succeed; and Robert Satcher, Jr., MD, PhD, assistant professor, Anderson Cancer Center and NASA mission specialist. 

The NC Schweitzer program is funded through the generosity of Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina Foundation, Duke University School of Medicine, ECU Brody School of Medicine, NCCU School of Graduate Studies, Pitt County Memorial Hospital University Health Systems of Eastern NC, UNC School of Medicine, Wake Forest University Health Sciences and individual donors. Other US-based ASF programs are located in Alabama, Boston, Chicago, Columbus-Athens, Oh.; Dallas-Fort Worth; Detroit; Houston; Los Angeles; New Orleans; New Hampshire/Vermont; Pittsburgh; San Francisco and Tulsa.