College of Science and Health graduate students Maryclaret Ndubuisi-Obi and Christina Ebertsch were among 30 Chicagoland students selected for the competitive Schweitzer Fellowship, a yearlong service-learning program. Both Ndubuisi-Obi and Ebertsch are pursuing Master’s Entry to Nursing Practice degrees in the School of Nursing. Read on to learn more about their Schweitzer Fellowship projects.
Building Healthy HabitsIn every place she’s lived, including Nigeria, Ethiopia and the South Side of Chicago, Ndubuisi-Obi has made it her mission to understand the local population. So when she moved to a predominantly Latino community in Waukegan, Ill., Ndubuisi-Obi immersed herself in neighborhood life.
“I learned from community members that health disparities in minority populations are highly complex and multifaceted,” she says. “Many people couldn’t navigate health care resources and services due to the language barrier and a lack of understanding of the health care system.”
Other barriers to healthy living were also affecting her neighbors. “Some were overwhelmed by the stressors of life and didn’t have a healthy way to release stress,” Ndubuisi-Obi says, pointing to anxiety over immigration policies as one lingering concern. “They also refrained from participating in physical activities like walking because they feared for their safety and faced a lack of social support.”
All of these issues are addressed through Ndubuisi-Obi’s project, which draws on the resources of Roberti Community House, the Lake County Forest Preserves, Lake County Health Department, the Waukegan Park District and Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science. Open to Latina women and their children, her initiative offers regular exercise sessions, meditation, bilingual guided nature walks and free health screenings. The latter incorporates workshops on chronic illnesses to help bridge the gap between health literacy and access. “I want to empower this community to take charge of their circumstances and actively participate in improving their overall health,” Ndubuisi-Obi asserts.
A Community of HopeEbertsch’s project also developed out …