Schweitzer Fellow working to improve children's health

Published: 2014-06-11

Zeenia Kaul

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Born in India, raised in Japan and educated in Australia, Zeenia Kaul appreciates diversity – of thought, of people and of education. It’s why Kaul, a 2014-2015 Albert Schweitzer Fellow, is introducing disadvantaged children in Columbus, Ohio to a whole new way to improve their health.

Kaul, a student in Fisher’s MBA for Working Professionals program, will spend the next school year at Columbus Preparatory Academy teaching elementary school children the benefits of complementary medicine like yoga and meditation. Her 14-week project, the Optimal Health Program, is one of more than 200 Schweitzer Fellowship initiatives aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged people across the nation.

“We won’t be dealing with just the physical aspects of better health,” she said of her charter school project. “I hope to tackle the emotional, psychological and academic connections to health and convey their importance to the kids. Eating healthy is one of the important things you have to do, but you have to make sure you feel good every day, that you have good relationships and that you tackle your emotional ups and downs as well.”

A cancer geneticist who is in the midst of her post-doctoral fellowship at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, Kaul said her project combines her interest in alternative medicine with her desire to give back to the community.

“There are reports that show health disparities in underserved populations versus affluent populations,” she said. “Even common diseases are managed differently in underserved populations because of a lack of information and resources. That’s the goal of this fellowship ­– to help these populations because they are the ones who are truly disadvantaged.”

Kaul continues to draw on the skills she’s learned during her experience at Fisher, both in preparation for her Schweitzer Fellowship project as well as in her medical research.

“I tell my lab partners that we should all be getting business degrees,” she said. “I’ve begun thinking differently about my research – particularly how to translate discoveries into innovative uses.

“I hope the school program is successful and one day it becomes part of the regular curriculum. I wouldn’t have thought of doing this project without taking business courses. I wouldn’t have thought about target segments and how to evaluate risk. This thinking has come only after enrolling at Fisher.”

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