Fellowship program helps students learn about improving public health in underserved communities

Two University of Saint Francis students recently wrapped up a Public Health Fellowship funded in part by the St. Joe Foundation.

Kennedy Trabel, a sophomore, completed her fellowship working with the Fort Wayne Community Schools Cooking in the Classroom program. The program introduced all FWCS seventh grade students to nutrition education and provided hands-on cooking instruction. Trabel assisted with ordering food for recipes, organizing cooking equipment and supplies, reviewing evaluations and volunteering in the classrooms.

For Trabel, the experience provided the opportunity to learn how to implement public health programming, as well as better understand the challenges some students from low-income communities face.

“I grew up in a small town and was very supported by my family and community,” says Trabel. “This fellowship showed me that many youth don’t have the same experiences I had. I know this will make me a more compassionate healthcare provider in the future because I was able to see the struggles some children face.”

Senior Emily Clauser spent her eight-week fellowship at A Mother’s Hope, a homeless shelter for pregnant women and new mothers. While there, Clauser organized a comprehensive six-week class covering topics about infants from birth to six weeks old. Clauser is continuing her education at a Physician Assistant graduate program and is grateful for the experience she had at A Mother’s Hope.

“They go above and beyond to prepare these women for independence and arm them with skills for success mentally, emotionally and physically,” she says. “This work makes a lasting difference in the community that breaks cycles of poverty, drug use and even unemployment.”

This is the first year for the Center for Integrated Public Health Education and Research Fellowship at the University of Saint Francis. The Center’s Executive Director, Amelia Clark, PhD, says it’s off to a great start.

“The first year of the fellowship program has been a great success! When we developed the program, our focus was to place fellows in community organizations that would support academic and personal growth for each student. Watching each fellow learn about their personal experience and how it relates to others was inspiring – the fellows’ individual experiences are something that will accompany them beyond the classroom, their university journey, and ultimately into the field where they work. I’m beyond thankful to the St. Joseph Community Health Foundation for funding this transformational experience for students!”