3 Students Embark On Service Projects Through Schweitzer Fellowships
Third-year University of New Hampshire School of Law students Christie Gallagher, Kimberly Reeve and Alex Samuel are part of a competitive group of students in the nation’s top health and human service schools who have been named Schweitzer Fellows.
The fellowships, which are given through The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship, aim to develop leaders in service in the spirit of Nobel Peace Prize winner and physician of the same name. Schweitzer Fellows partner with community-based organizations to identify an unmet health need, then design yearlong service projects and implement them in their communities.
Gallagher’s focus is on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD. She plans to educate law enforcement agencies and attorneys about how PTSD might affect the people they work with, and how those suffering with the disorder might manifest it.
Her interest in the project comes, in part, from her work over the past year as an intern in the Franklin Prosecutor’s Office.
“I can see how people who are exposed to severe stress and trauma in life can be severely altered,” she says. “They are still themselves, but, in a manner of speaking, they are seeing everything through a new set of glasses. Trauma can impact how they perceive the world and people around them, as well as how they communicate and navigate through life.”
Gallagher hopes to continue her efforts long after her year of service is over, through a training manual she will create that will allow law firms or police departments to train their own staff to recognize and respond appropriately to symptoms of PTSD.
Reeve and Samuel aim to empower New Hampshire consumers by offering training programs on consumer fraud. Their goal is to help people protect themselves against unfair and predatory transactions in auto financing, mortgage foreclosure, telemarketing scams and debt collection.
Samuel says his passion for consumer law and his experiences as a student led him to the project. “My experience working in the UNH Consumer and Commercial Law Clinic as well as volunteering at the NH Consumer Protection Bureau exposed me to the financial hurdles that consumers face on a daily basis,” he says. “Educating consumers is the best way for them to avoid entering into difficult financial situations.”
Reeve, his partner on the project, also has strong ties to it.
“My personal experiences prior to law school and the experiences both family and friends have shared with me motivated me to design a project that could reach out to as many people as possible on this issue,” she said.
The pair plans to travel throughout the state, presenting to a range of audiences.
As Schweitzer Fellows, Gallagher, Reeve and Samuel will be compensated for 200 hours of service toward their projects. In addition, they will spend countless hours preparing those projects. And part of the challenge will be finding the time between classes and course work.
Professor Mitchell Simon, who coordinates the Schweitzer Fellowship program at UNH Law, says the hard work is well worth it.
“It’s been a joy to watch students do good while they’re in school,” he says. “Sometimes in law school you lose touch with the fact there are real people at the end of these cases, and this gets them back in touch.”
After Schweitzer Fellows complete their year of service, they will become Schweitzer Fellows for Life and gain access to a network of more than 2,000 program alumni from across the country.
- Student Life