Heritage College students to serve the underserved through Schweitzer Fellow projects

Jun 12, 2019

From left: Princess Emeana, Jaime Freiburger, Erika Niewald and Aiesha Polakampalli.

Four medical students at the Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine have been named fellows for 2019-2020 by the Columbus-Athens chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship.

They are among 12 graduate students in the Columbus-Athens area to receive these fellowships, which will support them as they partner with community-based organizations to create and carry out a yearlong service project to address unmet health needs. The participants will also go through leadership development training.

Named as Schweitzer fellows are Princess Emeana, Heritage College, Athens; Jaime Freiburger, Heritage College, Cleveland; Erika Niewald, Heritage College, Dublin; and Aiesha Polakampalli, Heritage College, Athens.

“This upcoming year of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship will break new ground for the Heritage College, with fellows representing each of our three campuses and a collaboration with a medical student from the Ohio State University College of Medicine,” said Sherri Oliver, executive director of the Heritage College’s Community Health Programs and Area Health Education Center. “The 2019-2020 Heritage College Albert Schweitzer fellows will engage in service with a diverse group of community partners. We are impressed with the wide range of projects the students have decided to undertake, and we can’t wait to see their passion in action as their fellowships and service kick off in summer 2019.”

“I take such great pride in our Schweitzer fellows and the service projects that they will soon embark upon,” added Kenneth Johnson, D.O., chief medical affairs officer for Ohio University and executive dean of the Heritage College. “The Heritage College strives to attract students with an altruistic bent and, in turn, to instill in them a sense of accountability for community well-being. Through the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, our students are living out these values and making tremendous impacts on the health of communities across the state.”

Emeana, a rising second-year medical student, will be working with the Athens County Public Library system and OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital’s SeniorBEAT program to improve the health of Athens County residents aged 55 and older through health screenings to promote healthy lifestyle choices. Emeana will offer educational workshops to support and encourage healthy aging through low-impact fitness and group activities, including exercise classes for cardiovascular strengthening, health coaching, meditation, blood pressure monitoring and group-selected activities.

Freiburger, a rising third-year medical student, will partner with high schools in northeastern Ohio to teach students the Stop the Bleed protocol. This basic bleeding-control curriculum, developed in response to an increase in gun violence, teaches bystanders how to act as medical first responders in case of a mass casualty. With the help of local hospitals, health care professionals, police and emergency personnel, Freiburger will engage local school districts and provide this training to as many students as possible.

Niewald, a rising third-year medical student, will partner with Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Family Medical Center in Westerville, Ohio, to address the effects of chronic poverty-related stress due to factors such as financial challenges and food insecurity. Her program will offer medically underserved community residents therapies to augment their medical care, relieve stress, teach coping tools and help them focus on wellness and prevention. These services, as well as educational opportunities, will also be available to Mt. Carmel staff.

Polakampalli, a rising second-year Heritage College student, and OSU College of Medicine student Jennifer Samiec will work with the Ohio Reformatory for Women in Marysville, Ohio, to address gaps in health literacy among women incarcerated there. They will facilitate discussion groups to talk about health topics such as reproductive and mental health and will provide clinical background on specific issues for smaller groups.

The Columbus-Athens Schweitzer Fellows Program is one of 13 ASF programs across the United States. It facilitates service projects to benefit the Columbus and Athens communities, while developing emerging professionals who have the skills to address unmet health-related needs throughout their careers. Launched in 2010 with the help of a grant from the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation and hosted by The Ohio State University, The Columbus-Athens program is the first ASF program site in Ohio and one of only three in the Midwest.