Student Receives Schweitzer Fellowship

Trinity student Sarah Wharmby received a $3,000 Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a national award that funds graduate student projects designed to address unmet health needs and promote leadership development.

Wharmby is a student in the Master of Theological Studies degree program who plans to use the award to work with women in the neighborhood surrounding First English Lutheran Church, a near downtown Columbus congregation where Trinity graduate Bob Ward (’00) is pastor.  “The goal is to get these women out of the house and encourage them to form a community,” she said.  

fp list connected wharmby sarahHer proposed project strives to align local women through conversation and camaraderie, initially established in organized visits to a neighborhood hair and nail salon.  She hopes their spontaneous conversations and meetings will evolve into deeper discussions about issues surrounding health care, education, and nutrition.

“Ultimately, we hope to raise health awareness and empower women to be their own instruments of change,” she said, particularly in areas of personal health screenings and nutrition.

First English is located in an urban area of Columbus, where neighbors are exposed to gun violence and lack access to affordable child care and healthy food choices.

“A lot of these women are heads of households.  I would like to get them to form relationships with other women, so that they could call on one another to help with child care or how to navigate the bus routes and school issues,” said Wharmby.

The Schweitzer Fellowship program was launched in select cities in 1992 as a way to identify and develop a network of leaders focused on health-related community service.  The Columbus program was established in 2010 and is hosted by the Ohio State University School of Medicine and funded through the Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.  Applicants submit a proposal for a service project that entails at least 200 hours of service through an existing community agency.  They also work with an academic advisor.  Professor Jim Childs represents Trinity in Columbus and serves as an advisor for students.

Trinity student Bernard Cason was one of 15 students to receive the award in 2011.  Wharmby, a native of Canton, Ohio, is a 2012 graduate of Capital University, where she studied comparative religion, sociology and psychology.  She also works at the YWCA in downtown Columbus, helping people apply for food assistance, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and WIC, the supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children.  While her current role entails working with agencies, she ultimately hopes to work with individuals and families.

“The Schweitzer Fellowship is helping me reach my goal.  My interests are in developing community and community organizing.  So many great things come out of being in community,” said Wharmby, who would love to one day work with Lutheran Social Services.

A goal of the year-long project is to determine how to make it last.  “I would like to pull in Trinity students who could continue the community building; it is such an important part of ministry,” she said.