Rachel Francis, a student in National University’s chiropractic medicine program, was recently awarded the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, a one-year interdisciplinary, mentored fellowship program that fosters the leadership abilities of aspiring health professionals who design and implement projects to improve the health and well-being of underserved Chicago communities.
“I was thrilled, and very touched, to have been selected as one of the ’21-’22 fellows,” Francis said.
Her project will help further establish an all-girls boxing program as well as incorporate activities related to wellness and body positivity into their sessions. Starting in September, Francis will work alongside an organization called The Bloc, a non-profit boxing club for Chicago’s youth.
“This project feels especially important today as we emerge from a trying year of loss, isolation, and doubt,” Francis said. “With a lot of the past school year being virtual and lots of extracurriculars on hold, many youth missed out on the formative experience of being together and learning something new next to their peers. If I can help build an environment where girls can be completely themselves and come out more confident, I will be content.”
Francis got the idea for the project from her experience boxing as an undergrad. During that time, she loved being in an environment where girls challenged each other, yet celebrated each other’s strengths. She wanted to create a service project that similarly emphasized confidence, belonging, and stability for young women.
“As with chiropractic, boxing really involves the entire person – you can’t perform if your mind is in another place, and you’ll do best if you are aware of how your whole body is involved,” Francis said. “My passions for my future profession and this sport are one and the same: they both have the capacity to help someone be amazed by their own potential!”
In addition to working with staff at The Bloc, Francis will also receive assistance from NUHS faculty member Dana Madigan, who mentored her through the application process and serves as one of her professional role models.
“Dr. Madigan has played a huge role in igniting my interest in public health and reminding me as a future healthcare practitioner how humbling it is to get involved in the surrounding community,” she said.