In a milestone for the naturopathic medical profession, National University of Health Sciences student Phylicia Hammonds is the first naturopathic medicine student to be awarded The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. Phylicia was one of 220 multidisciplinary graduate students throughout the United States recently chosen as a 2015 – 2016 Schweitzer Fellow, and part of the 20th class of fellows in the organization’s Chicago chapter.
The fellowship program, started in 1992, supports graduate students in learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health, as well as developing lifelong leadership skills. The program honors the famous physician-humanitarian Dr. Albert Schweitzer and his message of service.
While fellows are competitively chosen from among graduate students in a wide variety of fields, Phylicia is the first in the program’s history to be currently enrolled in a naturopathic medicine degree program. Upon completion of her one-year fellowship, Phylicia will become a “Schweitzer Fellows for Life,” joining a network of over 2500 Schweitzer alumni throughout the world.
Phylicia grew up in an economically disadvantaged section of Atlanta, Georgia, where the height of achievement, she says, is usually just finishing high school. Though growing up in a single-parent home, Phylicia says her mother’s dedication helped her not only finish a bachelor’s degree in health promotion and behavior, but also complete a masters degree in public health. She credits her mother and her faith for allowing her to finally achieve her dream of going to medical school, and giving her the opportunity to use her education to help others.
Her own path inspired the required project that will be an integral focus of her fellowship. Phylicia will initiate “Be(YOU)tiful,” an interactive health awareness program focused on developing a positive self-image in adolescent girls through the incorporation of nutrition education and physical fitness. She’ll be working with disadvantaged youth who live on the south side of Chicago, coordinating her program through “Girls in the Game,” a Chicago-based organization. Girls in the Game provides and promotes sports and fitness opportunities, nutrition and health education, and leadership development to enhance the overall health and well being of girls.
“NUHS is proud to have Phylicia among its ranks as the very first ND student chosen for the Schweitzer Fellowship. This is the second time an NUHS student has made history in this regard. In 2012, NUHS student Dana Madigan was the very first student enrolled in a chiropractic degree program to be selected for the prestigious fellowship,” says NUHS President Joseph Stiefel. Dr. Madigan is currently a post-graduate resident in the NUHS research department.
“National University provides an extremely rigorous academic program that encourages its students to become leaders in their professions,” says President Stiefel. “That commitment to excellence shows itself in students like Phylicia. We look forward to following her project to bring health, wellness and self-esteem skills to disadvantaged girls in Chicago. We know that this is just the beginning of what Phylicia will be giving back to the world as she embarks on her career as a naturopathic physician.”