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William F. Connell School of Nursing

Master's entry student to start homelessness prevention service

Master's entry student Shandon Halland has been selected as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, an award through which students in health professions carry out service projects in underserved communities.



Master's entry student Shandon Halland has been selected as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow, an award through which students in health professions carry out service projects in underserved communities. Halland will start a homelessness prevention service at the Cambridge Health Alliance's outpatient mental health clinic, working with those with mental illness who are at risk of losing their housing. The clinic will also serve as Halland's clinical placement next year.

A native of Minnesota, Halland holds an undergraduate degree in philosophy. His interest in mental illness stemmed in part from his relationship with his uncle, who suffered from schizophrenia. After wandering through the country for a few years, Halland returned to Minnesota and found a powerful sense of purpose as a homeless outreach worker for people with mental illness. "The work expressed a synergistic relationship between my natural ability to relate with people, my sense of social justice, and my interest in mental illness," he says. After seven and a half years as an outreach worker, Halland and his wife decided to move to Boston, where he has pursued nursing school with the intention of upgrading his clinical skills. "I plan on returning to serve in communities where access to mental health services is limited," states Halland.

Halland envisions his fellowship project as having multiple components: a practical assessment of the individual's housing issue, identifying community agencies that may assist the person, working with the individual on source behavioral issues that precipitated the housing crisis, and implementing strengths model counseling to encourage problem solving. If enough people are interested, he hopes to start a housing skills/housing crisis group.

"With the demands of school," Halland says, "I've felt detached from the community service aspect of my being. So I'm very excited to have the opportunity to be a part of this Schweitzer Fellowship community, where many generous souls are congregating to see what can be done to alleviate some suffering and social problems. I look forward to working together and sharing insights."

The mission of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is to develop "leaders in service," individuals who are dedicated and skilled in addressing the health needs of underserved communities, and whose example influences and inspires others. To date, more than 2,000 fellows have contributed over 312,000 hours of service at hundreds of domestic community agencies.