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Students/Faculty News Kevin Storr June 01, 2021

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship of Alabama (ASF) announced Ibukun Afon, a student in the UAB School of Health Professions’ #1 ranked M.S. in Health Administration program (Class 56), as a member of its 2021-22 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Afon is one of 14 graduate students from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the University of Montevallo, and Samford University chosen to spend the next 13 months immersed in community public health projects.

"I am proud to say I serve as a mentor for Ibukun and it brings me joy to see that he was selected by a great program that matches his passion for service and community,” said Christy Harris Lemak, Ph.D., chair, Department of Health Services Administration. “I am excited to see the impact on the community and on Ibukun over the next year of this formative experience.”

The ASF projects are designed to improve the health and social well-being of their chosen populations while simultaneously strengthening their leadership skills.

“I am thankful to be selected as an ASF fellow and plan to address social isolation and loneliness in the geriatric population throughout the metro-Birmingham area by matching older adults with high school and college students,” said Afon. “This intergenerational engagement network will include volunteer grocery and pharmacy delivery services, courageous conversations about race and aging, plus, community gardening and other activities.”

Afon’s ASF project is a partnership with Hopewell Women in Agriculture (HWIA), which is run by Project Hopewell, Inc. He seeks to foster compassionate care and social support through loving God, loving neighbors, and loving selves. Ultimately, he wants his project outcomes to include improved health and well-being, particularly in the older adult population.

 Ibukun Afon Farmers Mkt(L/R): Mrs. Virginia Ward (Hopewell Women in Agriculture and Bessemer Farmers’ Market Founder and Ibukun’s ASF Community Site Mentor), Kenya Russell (Southern Made Creatives Founder and Bessemer Health & Wellness Fair co-planner), Corri Marteny (Bessemer Farmers’ Market Assistant Manager and Bessemer Local Food and Education Network Board Member), Joe Openshaw (Bessemer Farmers’ Market Co-Founder and Manager, and Bessemer Local Food and Education Network Chairperson), and Ibukun Afon (communal health advocate and Bessemer Health and Wellness Fair co-planner)

“Graduate school is a time that students are asked to specialize, to hone in and learn in-depth knowledge about their discipline,” said Kristin Boggs, Executive Director of ASF of Alabama. “The Schweitzer Fellowship provides a balance for students so that they can see how other disciplines also approach these thorny social and health-related problems and, importantly, how the disciplines can work together to solve them.”

Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component so that Fellows can continue to inspire others to improve the health of those who experience barriers to care beyond their year of service. Their efforts year in and year out continue the legacy of the Fellowship’s namesake, the famed physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer.

It is anticipated that Afon and the 13 other Alabama Schweitzer Fellows will be joined by approximately 200 other 2021-22 Schweitzer Fellows working at program sites across the United States.

Ibukun Afon ClientIbukun Afon with a veteran of the Korean War who he helps with grocery delivery, general social support and appointment scheduling. 

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