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Students receive prestigious Schweitzer Fellowships


One of the key tenets of a Jesuit education is to help students become men and women for others. It’s a theme that surrounds Loyola students every day on campus, from the courses they take to the organizations they join.

Four current Loyola graduate students have taken that mission to a whole new level.

The four—Eddie Burks, Audrey Hertenstein, Kathryn Huber, and Padraic Stanley—were recently selected for the prestigious Albert Schweitzer Fellowship program and will spend the next year working on healthcare-related projects to help underserved communities in Chicago.

Named in honor of famed humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer, the fellowship program encourages students to design and implement a project that addresses an unmet community health need. Fellowship recipients must partner with an existing organization and commit at least 200 service hours to their project—on top of their already heavy school workloads.

Only 250 Schweitzer Fellows are chosen nationally each year, which puts these four Loyola graduate students in truly elite company.

Eddie Burks

School of Education
Hometown: Olympia Fields, Illinois
Working with: Uhlich Children’s Advantage Network (UCAN)

What brought you to Loyola? 

I came to graduate school at Loyola because of its social justice platform. I’m a big advocate for social causes, and it seemed only natural to continue that mission at Loyola. Also, the quality of education and the opportunity to do service work at a graduate level were important to me.

Talk a little about your project: what it is, how you became interested in it, and what you’re looking to accomplish.

I’ll be providing positive relationship support through clinical, psycho-education, and social interventions to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth who are wards of the state. Having been in foster care and self-identifying as gay, I understand the many challenges these youth face. I also understand the positive support that is needed to help these young people with the development of their sexual identity and orientation. My project aims to provide that support.

How does it feel to be a Schweitzer Fellowship recipient?

To be honest, I’m still getting use to it. This was the first time I applied for something of this magnitude and being considered a finalist was rewarding in itself—but to actually be a winner feels great. It’s humbling to see the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has identified my work as a need, and for this I am honored.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I plan to have obtained my doctorate in counseling psychology and run a private practice focused on implementing my service project nationally. I also plan to have adopted children out of foster care so that I can provide another level of positive relationship support—this time as a dad.

Audrey Hertenstein

Stritch School of Medicine
Hometown: Morton, Illinois
Working with: CommunityHealth

What brought you to Loyola?

I knew I wanted to attend Loyola after meeting and talking with so many like-minded students, faculty, and staff during the Second Look Program. I’m passionate about improving the health and healthcare access of underserved communities, and finding a place like Loyola—whose mission is so in line with my own—is one of the many reasons I feel fortunate to call this university my home.

Talk a little about your project: what it is, how you became interested in it, and what you’re looking to accomplish.

After working with CommunityHealth programs in Honduras and the United States, I saw first-hand the importance of peer-to-peer education. The project I’m working on is a group-based weight loss class for Spanish- and English-speaking women through the CommunityHealth clinic on Chicago Avenue. The class will focus on topics ranging from goal setting and exercise to nutrition and stress reduction. The ultimate hope for this class is to draw on the peer support and peer-led knowledge of fellow group members to help patients achieve their weight loss goals and lifestyle changes.

How does it feel to be a Schweitzer Fellowship recipient?

Since becoming a part of the Schweitzer Fellow community, I’ve been overwhelmed with support from Loyola, the Schweitzer Foundation staff, and my fellow Schweitzer Fellows. I’m looking forward to a year of learning from my peers, learning from the community I’ll be working with, and developing skills to help people reach their health goals. 

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I’d like to work in family medicine and support the community I’m working with. I hope to help others achieve their goals and plan to continue to work toward that over the next decade.

Kathryn Huber

School of Law and School of Social Work (dual-degree program)
Hometown: Mount Prospect, Illinois
Working with: Cabrini Green Legal Aid

What brought you to Loyola?

The dual-degree program and the School of Law’s commitment to public interest, public service, and the ethical practice of law. I never wanted to be a traditional corporate attorney, and Loyola has an amazing reputation for educating lawyers who go on to make a difference for underrepresented people. I wanted to be part of that.

Talk a little about your project: what it is, how you became interested in it, and what you’re looking to accomplish.

We know that people with criminal records are far more likely to be homeless, to be unemployed, to be without health insurance, and to be without access to mental health treatment. That’s where my project comes in: I’ll be working with eligible young people to expunge their criminal records—and afterward, to explore the opportunities available to them, such as employment, college, or vocational programs. This project seeks to ensure that the mistakes people make as an adolescent don’t hurt them later in life.

How does it feel to be a Schweitzer Fellowship recipient?
I was so honored to have been chosen, especially when I got to meet some of the amazing people in the program with me.  The Schweitzer Fellowship is such a unique opportunity to collaborate with people who all share a passion for making a difference. To be a part of that is incredible.

What do you hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope to be practicing as an attorney on behalf of children in some capacity. They are often subject to a variety of legal proceedings that affect their interests and impact their entire lives—but they don’t always have a voice in what goes on. So I’d like to be able to help them during those crucial proceedings. 

Padraic Stanley

School of Social Work
Hometown: Bucyrus, Ohio
Working with: Rincon Family Services

What brought you to Loyola?

Getting to Chicago has been my goal for a long time, so when I decided to apply to graduate schools for social work, I knew I wanted to come to the city. Loyola is one of the only schools in the nation where you can learn, in-depth, about social work with immigrants and refugees though the migration studies sub-specialization.

Talk a little about your project: what it is, how you became interested in it, and what you’re looking to accomplish.

After working with immigrants and refugees in multiple settings, as well as personally interacting with loved ones who are undocumented, I noticed huge mental health needs and disparities within the community. For my project, I’ll be working with community leaders and organizations to develop a map of accessible and affordable mental health services for undocumented immigrants. I’ll then help train people to identify mental health concerns in their loved ones and their communities, as well as show them where to get the services they need.

How does it feel to be a Schweitzer Fellowship recipient?

When I got my acceptance to the fellowship, I was in complete disbelief. Virtually any graduate student in Chicago is eligible to apply, and so the application pool is huge. I wanted this fellowship because it combined so many of my goals and passions, so I’m glad the selection committee saw something special in my application and my interviews.

And finally, what do you hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope to be developing, implementing, and coordinating mental health and other social service programming that caters to the needs of immigrant communities. I either want to be working as a director at an agency that specifically runs these programs, or working within existing agencies to develop comprehensive mental health programs.