Nine ECU medical students chosen as N.C. Schweitzer fellows

(June 14, 2005)  —  Nine students of the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University have been chosen as North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows for 2005-06. In total, 22 North Carolina students in schools of medicine, nursing, dentistry and public health were selected to implement their 16 proposals to improve the health of North Carolinians.

The N.C. Schweitzer Fellows Program is entering its 12th year. Each fellow works with a local community agency to carry out a project that contributes at least 200 hours of direct service. The fellows also plan symposia highlighting health issues of concern to communities.

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship continues the legacy of Dr. Albert Schweitzer, who is viewed as one of the great humanitarians of the 20th century. The fellowship was founded in 1940 to support the work of Schweitzer in Lambaréné, Gabon, during World War II. Since that time, the fellowship has continued to support the hospital there as well as other programs and began sponsoring local programs to address unmet health care and social needs in the United States.

Schweitzer fellows are chosen on a competitive basis from student applicants in a variety of health-related fields, including medicine, nursing, public health, social work, and law, and they continue their conventional professional training while participating in the entry year of the Schweitzer Fellows Program.

This year's fellows are from the Brody School of Medicine second-year class and are as follows with a description of their community service projects: --Yvonne Ator, a native of Greensboro, will implement an HIV/AIDS Prevention through Awareness, Counseling and Testing program. The campaign will strive to raise awareness of the HIV epidemic in Pitt County, to provide counseling and to implement the new HIV rapid testing procedure.

"I'm excited about my project because we will be taking the tests to the people and giving results the same day in an attempt to stop HIV in its tracks via reducing risky behaviors and empowering people to live healthy lives and take advantage of community resources," Ator said. "My project will focus on populations that are falling through the cracks in the fight against AIDS, the so-called 'disenfranchised' of our society. My population will include the community shelters, soup kitchens, rehab center and domestic violence shelters."

She has an undergraduate degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Ator has a deep interest in rural health and international health issues and plans to become a pediatrician after medical school.

--A native of Plymouth, Jacob Cuellar will lead "Hearts N' Parks: Salud para su Corazon," a cardiovascular disease prevention initiative for 80 to 100 Hispanic children 6 to 12 years old enrolled in Pitt County schools.

"'Salud para su Corazon' is a fun, enriching summer youth program that is aimed at increasing the awareness of modifiable cardiovascular risk factors, such as being overweight or physically inactive, by demonstrating ways to adopt healthy lifestyle changes to Hispanic children," he said. "This program will immerse many Hispanic children in an environment that supports and encourages a healthy lifestyle and increased physical activity in order to prevent cardiovascular disease."

Cuellar formed a planning committee for his project, including the Pitt County Health Department, the Local Physical Activity and Nutrition group, Nutrition Partners and Health Promotion of Greenville. He will use the CATCH Kids Club material, which is a culturally appropriate modification of the curriculum from the Child and Adolescent Trial for Cardiovascular Health from the University of Texas.

Cuellar has an undergraduate degree from Duke University. He is also an active member of the N.C. Society of Hispanic Professionals and involved in

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