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Two BC Graduate Students Earn Schweitzer Fellowships

Caitlin Partyka of the Graduate School of Social Work

By Office of News & Public Affairs |

Published: May 10, 2012

Two Boston College graduate students, Jennifer Patey of the Connell School of Nursing and Caitlin Partyka of the Graduate School of Social Work, have been selected as 2012-13 Albert Schweitzer Fellows. They will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that affect health and developing leadership skills, in the spirit of the award’s namesake, famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer.

Patey and Partyka join 13 other graduate students who were named Albert Schweitzer Fellows for the Boston area. The Boston Schweitzer Fellows represent seven universities, 15 academic programs, and eight health and human service disciplines. In total, 243 graduate students throughout the US were named 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellows.

In addition to their regular graduate school responsibilities, Schweitzer Fellows collaborate with community-based organizations to identify unmet health needs and design and implement yearlong, mentored 200-hour service projects that improve health and well-being in underserved communities.

Patey, who is enrolled in the Connell School’s master’s entry psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner program, will work with EDCO Youth Alternative High School in Boston to address health knowledge deficits in underserved high school students by providing health education in a round-table setting. Her curriculum will emphasize connecting students to community resources and helping them develop daily routines that prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes and obesity. Patey will encourage students to actively participate in shaping their own health through discussion, goal-setting, journal writing, and one-on-one meetings.

“It is an honor to follow in the footsteps of Albert Schweitzer, an innovator in providing health services to underprivileged populations. I decided on my service project because I saw a glaring need for health education while I was employed as a math teacher at an alternative high school for underserved youth. My goal is to empower students to improve their health, and in a greater sense, their lives,” said Patey.

Jennifer Patey of the Connell School of Nursing

Partyka, a first-year student at GSSW, is focusing on the area of childhood obesity. Working through Sociedad Latina in Roxbury — a community organization that promotes solutions to educational, social, economic, health-related and other issues facing Latino youth — she has established an exercise program that offers weekly opportunities for area youths to participate in physical activity, and learn about diabetes prevention, nutrition and overall health and wellness.

Through the program, Partyka also hopes to foster leadership among young people, bolstering their confidence and problem-solving skills in the process.

“This program goes beyond just doing exercises,” says Partyka. “We’re planning activities such as hiking and kayaking, which really build teamwork and leadership. From personal experience, I know how important being active is: It’s not just for your body, but for your mind and spirit.”

"Caitlin represents the professionalism, drive, and creativity that social workers strive for on a continual basis. She is a complete asset to our profession and we are so proud of her fellowship," said GSSW faculty member Sandee Tisdale.

Upon completion of their initial year, the 2012-13 Schweitzer Fellows will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life, joining a vibrant network of more than 2,500 Schweitzer alumni skilled in, and committed to, addressing the health needs of underserved people throughout their professional careers.

For information on the Schweitzer Fellowship program, see