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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr June 07, 2023

Christine C. Ferguson, Ph.D., a postdoctoral fellow with the School of Health Professions Research Collaborative, and Daniel L. Smith, Jr., associate professor in the Department of Nutrition Sciences, receive the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (ASF) of Alabama’s Outstanding Academic Mentor Award.

The two worked together to mentor 2022-23 ASF Fellow Leandra Durham. She partnered with the Lakeshore Foundation to help implement the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) for individuals with disabilities.

“This was my first time being involved in the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, and it has been such a positive experience working with Leandra and Dr. Smith,” said Ferguson. “It has also been wonderful seeing Leandra’s interests and enthusiasm grow while serving Lakeshore members with disabilities.”

“I have truly enjoyed working with Leandra and Dr. Ferguson during the Fellowship and learning more about the ASF program over the past year,” said Smith. “I value the support given to the trainee fellows through the program and the multiple levels of leadership development that are offered throughout the year.”

“Both Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Smith went above and beyond to help me with every aspect of my project,” said Durham. “Both mentors showed great amounts of empathy in their leadership and offered advice that had my best interest in mind. Both Dr. Ferguson and Dr. Smith always made time for me and my questions and never once made me feel like I had to fight for their time or attention. They both showed me mentor styles that I appreciate and hope to adopt.”

The DEEP components included in-person healthy meals cooking demonstrations in an accessible kitchen and a post-program support group to continue communication among the participants. Durham also collaborated with the National Center on Health, Physical Activity, and Disability (NCHPAD), which is based in the School of Health Professions, to create an educational curriculum for an inclusive grocery store tour that is still in process.

Ferguson and Smith were honored at ASF’s Celebration of Service event earlier this year, where they were recognized alongside the graduating 2022-23 class of ASF Fellows. This year’s group of ASF Fellows included 20 graduate students from Auburn University, the University of Montevallo, Samford University and UAB.

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