A Visionary Alum
Nan Zhang, MHS ‘14, selected as a 2014-2015 Albert Schweitzer Fellow-Baltimore.
During my time at the Bloomberg School—from which I just graduated— one of the most profound experiences I had was being awarded an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. The yearlong fellowship is allowing me to address local health disparities by implementing a public health care initiative that was rooted in my academic work.
As a part of the Children in Crises course and MPH Practicum (which is offered to all students as part of a service learning course), I became involved with the Student Outreach Resource Center (SOURCE). I partnered with the YO! Center, which helps to mentor students who are obtaining their GED and guide them with career counseling.
An overlooked problem that I noticed while working with these youth stems from an inability to read and write clearly because of poor vision. Without good eyesight, everyday tasks that the rest of us take for granted can be a great struggle.
Inspired by the students’ plight in obtaining affordable vision health care and optical needs, I applied for an Albert Schweitzer Fellowship to support a project with direct service at its core. My project—Vision Interchange—is based on the principle of a glasses exchange program to match corrected lenses to youth in need. Another aspect of it involves local hospitals and eye clinics providing free vision health care services.
By targeting vision correction and ophthalmologic issues early in a child's development, we can arrange for and provide treatment with the aim of preserving eyesight.
The Fellowship as well as the support of the faculty of the Children in Crisis course and those at the YO! Center have been integral in my mission to address the unmet vision needs of youth living in East Baltimore.
By Nan Zhang, MHS, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB)
The Schweitzer Fellowship: Since 1999, more than 225 Schweitzer Fellows have provided over 45,000 hours of service to Baltimore’s most vulnerable communities.