ECU medical, dental students chosen as N.C. Schweitzer Fellows

Four students from the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University and two students in the ECU School of Dental Medicine have been named to the 2022-23 class of North Carolina Schweitzer Fellows.

The North Carolina Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (NCASF) announced the selection of 28 graduate students who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health and developing lifelong leadership skills. This year’s class represents fellows from medicine, dental, social work, counseling, public health and law.

“During these shifting days of the pandemic, it is critically important our next generation of health professionals understand the challenges community members face in achieving health and wellness, learn how to develop initiatives which help overcome those challenges, and use their voice to advocate for our most vulnerable,” said Barbara Heffner, executive director of the N.C. Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “I continue to be impressed and by the innovative approaches the Fellows devise to fill the gaps in our health care system to meet the needs of at-risk communities.”

Schweitzer Fellows develop and implement service projects that address the root causes of health disparities in under-resourced communities, while also fulfilling their academic responsibilities. Each project is implemented in collaboration with a community-based organization.

The N.C. Schweitzer Fellowship’s new class of fellows will lead a multitude of service initiatives offering free food and nutritional services for people experiencing mental illness and homelessness, older adults and other community members who are food insecure; free dentures; free oral health services and oral health education; support for laboring patients and new moms; education and social support for patients with traumatic brain injury; hybrid telehealth/home visitation for low income seniors and people with disabilities; mentoring programs for preteen girls; free eyecare for people experiencing homelessness; and therapy for patients with Parkinson’s. They will be launching their projects in vulnerable communities throughout the state.

ECU’s Schweitzer Fellows and details of their projects include:

Headshot of Dissanayake


Headshot of Roupas


Manthi Dissanayake and Julianna Roupas

Brody School of Medicine
Academic Mentor: Kori Brewer, M.D.
Site Mentor: Kathy Kolasa, M.D., ECU Health Nutrition Consultant
Site: Community Health and Engagement of the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina
Students will address food insecurity in low-income older adults through nutrition education, budgeting workshops and cooking demonstrations utilizing affordable, healthy food items. Each four-week series will provide participants with weekly free bags of groceries.

Headshot of Gaddamanugu


Headshot of McLaggan


Uma Gaddamanugu and Shantell McLaggan

Brody School of Medicine
Academic Mentor:
Kerianne Crockett, M.D., FACOG
Site Mentor: Dr. James deVente M.D., Ph.D.: Associate Professor; ECU Health Medical Center Director of Obstetrics and Angela Still MSN RN, Administrator for Women’s and Children’s Services at ECU Health Medical Center
Site: ECU Health Medical Center Labor and Delivery
Students will work to improve the birth experiences of high-risk pregnant mothers in eastern North Carolina by launching a free doula program to provide access to continuous labor support.

Headshot of Walker


Headshot of Whyte


Joshua Walker and Alexander Whyte

School of Dental Medicine
Academic Mentor: Mark Moss, D.D.S., Ph.D.
Site Mentor: Bill Milner, D.D.S., MPH, President at Access Dental Care and Betsy White, Access Dental Care COO
Site: Access Dental Care, New Hanover Health Department, New Hanover Senior Resource Center, New Hanover Dental Society, New Hanover Regional Medical Center, MedNorth and Elderhaus
Students will lead oral health education for low-income older adults and their caretakers and link those in need to a new free dental clinic.

Founded in 1994, the N.C. Albert Schweitzer Fellowship is one of 13 currently active Schweitzer program sites across the U.S. dedicated to developing a pipeline of emerging professionals who enter the workforce with the skills and commitment necessary to address unmet health needs. Fellows are competitively chosen from graduate health professional students enrolled at major North Carolina universities. They come from a variety of academic disciplines and, as Schweitzer Fellows, they work tirelessly to address existing health disparities throughout the state.