Supriya Rastogi, a second-year MD/MPH student, has received a Schweitzer Fellowship to conduct a yearlong project aimed at tackling racial and ethnic health disparities, with a focus on reproductive heath on the South Side of Chicago.
“Since starting medical school and taking classes in public health, I’ve learned about the health disparities in maternal and child health on the South Side of Chicago, and I wanted to get involved in making a difference while I’m here in the city,” she said.
One of 30 Chicago-area students awarded a Schweitzer fellowship, Rastogi will spend at least 200 hours of service on her project.
“It is an inspiring environment to be around other fellows who are also passionate about helping the community,” Rastogi said. “We can use this fellowship as an opportunity to learn how to interact with the community and best serve others.”
Rastogi will partner with EverThrive Illinois, a non-profit organization that works to improve maternal and child health through community engagement, education and advocacy. She will work with adolescents in summer camps and high schools, holding educational classes and organizing a photo voice project. Teens will demonstrate how they view health in their community by taking photographs in their communities. At the end of the program, students will showcase their pictures at a local symposium describing the story behind the images.
“I’m excited to work with EverThrive Illinois, because they have a great reputation with addressing reproductive health issues in Chicago,” she said. “We want to facilitate a discussion and present information in a fun way.”
In addition to working with adolescents and teenagers, Rastogi will also be reaching out to pregnant or parenting mothers for reproductive health and nutrition classes.
“I’m hoping the women find a place they can feel connected to other women who are in similar situations and find an open forum to talk about health concerns and learn about heath care,” said Rastogi. “Our goal is to protect mothers and their children and to help them we need to know what they need, and learn how we can be a resource to them.”
The Chicago Area Schweitzer Fellows Program, named in honor of humanitarian and Nobel laureate Dr. Albert Schweitzer, provides a platform for graduate students in health related fields to design and implement innovative projects to improve the health and well-being of underserved populations throughout Chicago. Fellows receive an annual stipend of $2,500, which may be used to help support their project costs.
Rastogi’s project is also funded by the Paul Ambrose Scholars Program, which prepares students from fields related to public and clinical health to address population health challenges at the national and community level. This summer, she will travel to Washington, D.C. to the Ambrose Scholars symposium to meet and learn from leaders in public health.