By Melinda Cassidy
Outreach and Engagement Communications Student Intern
By the age of 30, Albert Schweitzer had already authored three books and made landmark scholarly contributions in the fields of music, religion and philosophy. However, aware of the desperate medical needs of Africans, he decided to become a doctor and devote the rest of his life to direct service in Africa. In 1913, when he was 37, Dr. Schweitzer and his wife, Hélène, opened a hospital in Lambaréné, Gabon. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship supports graduate and professional students who wish to follow in pioneering humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer’s footsteps*.
T.M. Ayodele Adesanya, an MD-Ph.D. student in biomedical sciences, had a passion for the kids at Champion Middle School on the Near East Side of Columbus after learning in 2010 that the state declared it to be the most underperforming middle school in Ohio. The Columbus-Athens Albert Schweitzer Fellows program (ASF), a year-long fellowship in which graduate and professional students design and implement community engagement projects, gave him an opportunity to help.
“I read an article talking about the poor academic state of the middle school at the time unfortunately, and the article really just went in on the school,” Adesanya said. “I was reading it the whole time thinking, ‘They’re sixth graders, you can’t give up on them.'”
Wanting to expose students to healthcare professions, Adesanya started a mentorship program at Champion in 2012. When he became a Schweitzer Fellow in 2013, he had the opportunity to expand his program, spending more than the ASF-required 200 hours on the project.