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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr April 17, 2023

Written by Rylan Gray

Alanis Stansberry, a second-year student in the UAB PhD in Nutrition Sciences program, has been selected as a 2023-2024 Fellow of Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama (ASF).

Her cohort of 21 graduate students is the largest class to date for Alabama’s Schweitzer Fellowship. Of the 21 students selected, 12 of them are UAB graduate students. For the next 13 months, the new fellows will spend their time immersed in community public health projects.

“A lot of people apply because the opportunity provides a lot of good training, such as how to better communicate with people, how to properly organize events, how to become a better leader, and so much more, so I’m just honored and excited to be a part of this opportunity and join the Schweitzer Fellow family,” said Stansberry.

The Alabama Fellows program was founded in 2015 and is 1 of 13 active Schweitzer program sites in the U.S. The program is devoted to growing and expanding a pipeline of arising professionals entering the workforce with the tools and dedication it takes to aid unmet health needs.

Stansberry was encouraged to apply for the fellowship by one of her PhD classmates, Leandra Durham, who is a 2022-2023 Schweitzer Fellow. Durham’s ASF work looks at helping underserved populations impacted by diabetes.

“Leandra has done some really amazing work,” said Stansberry. “After talking with her a few times about the Schweitzer Fellowship, she told me how much she loved it, so I thought I’d give it a try too and I was actually lucky enough to be selected.”

As a part of being a Schweitzer Fellow, Stansberry and her cohort are tasked with creating a community-based service project that will improve the health and social well-being of their community of choice while also sharpening their leadership skills.

She has been paired with Lemeshia Chambers, Operations Director of Live HealthSmart Alabama. Her goal is to do a nutrition education project that builds on the work provided by the Mobile Market provided by Live HealthSmart Alabama. Stansberry wants to teach people about healthy food and show people in the community why diet is vital for a healthy lifestyle. The goal is to accompany the Mobile Market and provide onsite nutrition education to the shoppers.

“Every year we are blown away by the commitment to community that the graduate student applicants uphold in their applications and interviews,” said Kristin Boggs, Executive Director of ASF of Alabama. “These are students who desire not only to contribute to the health and wellbeing of others but also to learn from their community mentors and members. We are excited to come alongside these students as they seek to build trust and develop mutual partnerships.”

When asked about what she plans on doing professionally upon completion of her program, the Athens, Tennessee, native said she is keeping her options open and described her found interest in research. In addition, she mentioned a desire to work with community and family-based efforts for nutrition education such as weight loss, weight maintenance, and healthy eating habits.

And that is one of the most important reasons the Schweitzer Fellowship is so valuable to Stansberry - it stems from her upbringing and hometown community.

“I didn’t grow up with nutrition literacy and some members of my family struggled with nutrition related diseases like obesity and diabetes which are common in my community, so it means so much that I can share something I’m passionate about and make an impact on the community in the that way so I’m excited to accept this opportunity in remembrance and dedication to my family and community." 

Approximately 200 other 2023-2024 national Schweitzer Fellows will join the 21 Alabama Schweitzer Fellows working at various program sites across the country. Everyone selected becomes a Schweitzer Fellow for Life, continuing their commitment to improving the public health of underserved communities throughout their careers.

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