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Schweitzer Fellows to help community lead healthier lives

Janet Kiplinger Ciccone
July 23, 2014

Fullen and Gordon tapped as 2014-2015 Schweitzer Fellows

Matthew Fullen and Diandra Gordon of the College of Education and Human Ecology are two of only 18 graduate students chosen to join the 2014-15 class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows from the Columbus-Athens Chapter.

The doctoral students will spend the next year developing and implementing service projects with community organizations. Their goal is to live the legacy of the famed humanitarian-physician by addressing the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities.

Cheryl Achterberg, dean of the college, said the college’s programs prepare the Schweitzer Fellows to address complex problems of society. “I am proud to see our students apply the knowledge gleaned from their graduate programs to help people in the community lead healthier lives. The experience will broaden their expertise while benefiting society.”

Projects to support older adults, African American families

Matthew Fullen, a second-year PhD student in counselor education, is from Hilliard, Ohio, and specializes in the mental health of underserved older adults.

He chose this specialty because he has worked with distressed older adults since earning his bachelor’s degree in 2005. Many were people displaced from their homes by everything from Hurricane Katrina to a housing renovation project. After earning a master’s degree and counseling licensure, Fullen counseled low-income adults in long-term care facilities in north central Ohio. Many grappled with recent physical disabilities or the prospect of aging, which resulted in depression and anxiety.

As a Schweitzer Fellow, Fullen will implement his project at the National Church Residences Center for Senior Health, an adult day center in Columbus. “Currently, I am working with site staff to assess the specific needs of this group of older adults,” he said. “I intend to develop a sustainable program that promotes mental health from a strengths and wellness perspective and launch it this summer.”

Fullen’s advisor, Professor Darcy Haag Granello, said, “The Counselor Education program is extremely proud of the work Matthew is doing to advocate for this underserved population. As our population ages, it is critical to address the mental health and wellness of older adults. Matthew’s work is innovative and exciting and has the potential to impact the individuals in his project as well as countless others who will benefit from the important research he will conduct on the effectiveness of these interventions.”

Diandra Gordon, a first-year PhD student in human development and family science, has chosen to address cultural health issues on the near eastside of Columbus, where she grew up.

She is partnering with the King Arts Complex and GOREE Drum and Dance. Her goal is to educate, empower and strengthen families to make healthier choices by bringing awareness of rich local resources and the African diaspora.

“I am creating a weekly evening program designed to give families a central time and location to spend quality time with each other,” Gordon said. “They will build relationships, become culturally aware and gain knowledge and tools to live a healthier lifestyle for generations to come within their own community.”

She expects to implement the project in September and continue until late April 2015.

Gordon’s advisor, Associate Professor Claire Kamp Dush, said, “Diandra’s project is the perfect example of how doctoral students in the Human Development and Family Science program are transforming the ways we live and learn by strengthening families through innovative prevention and intervention efforts.”

Creating a corps of leaders for life

This year’s two Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows from EHE will join approximately 220 other 2014-15 Schweitzer Fellows working at 12 program sites. Eleven sites are in the U.S. One is in Lambaréné, Gabon, at the location of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, founded by Dr. Schweitzer in 1913.

Upon completion of their fellowship year, the 2014-15 Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life. They join a vibrant network of nearly 3,000 Schweitzer alumni who are skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their careers. Fellows for Life routinely report that ASF is integral to sustaining their commitment to serving people in need.

The national Schweitzer program is based in Boston and has chapters nationwide.


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