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Rodney Johnson and SPH Students


University of Illinois at Chicago School of Public Health graduate student Rodney Johnson (B.A. ’17) has been selected for the prestigious Schweitzer Fellowship – a year-long service learning program that empowers Fellows to design and implement projects that help address the health needs of underserved Chicago communities.

Named in honor of famed humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program encourages students to become lifelong leaders in service by helping to address unmet health needs among vulnerable Chicagoland residents. In collaboration with existing community organizations, each Schweitzer Fellow will launch a community-based project, providing 200 hours of service. Using a broad public health lens, the new Fellows will work to improve community wellbeing and target the social determinants of health—the conditions in which people are born, grow, live, work, and age that have a profound impact on health and quality of life.

For his service project, Johnson will develop an asthma awareness presentation for working women who have children diagnosed with asthma. The presentation will address asthma awareness and the health issues of working mothers in Greater Englewood.

“There are significant disparities in asthma prevalence, asthma management, and health outcomes in low-income African American communities in Chicago,” Johnson said. “Less than 25% of the children living in these communities have their asthma under control. There is also a high level of environmental stressors that affect the primary caregivers of children with asthma. Through my project, I hope to find ways to support primary caregivers in underserved communities administer their children’s asthma management plan.”

Utilizing an interdisciplinary approach, the Fellowship exposes students to real-world inter-professional, collaborative care and aims to develop lifelong leaders in service. The 30 2018-19 Fellows include students from 10 area universities and 20 academic programs, ranging from nursing to disability studies and public health. The exceptional class of Fellows was selected from a pool of almost 100 applicants through a competitive process.

“I chose to apply for Schweitzer Fellowship because it offers me the opportunity to make a difference in my community,” Johnson shared. “It is also a great opportunity to collaborate with students from other disciplines while developing leadership and teamwork skills. Our job, as Schweitzer Fellows and advocates for social justice, is to leave this world in a better place than it was before we arrived.”

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