Published on March 29, 2017 by Sarah Waller  
Gafford Tinsley

The Albert Schweitzer Fellowship has named two Samford University graduate students to the 2017–18 class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. Ida Moffett School of Nursing students William Gafford and Newton Tinsley are among 16 graduate students in Alabama and approximately 240 nationally who will spend the next year learning to effectively address the social factors that impact health and developing lifelong leadership skills. 

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 health and/or social service organization. 

Gafford and Tinsley are both enrolled in the Samford’s nurse anesthesia program. Together, their project will work to address unmet medical needs for adults with developmental disabilities at Unless U, a Birmingham-based education program committed to serving adults with developmental disabilities and their families through continuing education, life skills and social skills. Lindy Williamson Cleveland, a 2014 Samford graduate, is the founder of Unless U. 

Their project will work to implement preventative measures to optimize the physical well-being of students, including developmentally appropriate teaching on physical fitness, nutrition and hygiene. The project will also focus on preparing teachers and families for medical emergencies that may be encountered by this vulnerable population. 

“This is a talented and hard-working group of students who are passionate about improving health care and access to care,” said Kristin Boggs, director of the Alabama chapter of the Albert Schweitzer Fellowship. “They’ve partnered with an impressive range of community-based groups that are working to help vulnerable people live healthier lives, and it will be very exciting to see how their projects progress over the next year.” 

Schweitzer Fellowships have an intensive leadership component, and the selection of Samford students into the program is a testament of university’s commitment to preparing its students to be servant leaders with confidence, compassion and knowledge. 

“We are very proud of William and Newton for being selected to this incoming class of Albert Schweitzer Fellows,” said Vice Provost Nena F. Sanders. “These men are true Moffett nurses, living out the maxim of our namesake, Ida V. Moffett, who said, ‘Compassion means taking action.’ I am excited to see what they will be able to accomplish over the next 12 months.” 

Gafford and Tinsley are not the first students from Samford’s College of Health Sciences to be selected for the program. McWhorter School of Pharmacy student Caitlyn Cleghorn was one of four Samford students and recent alumni who participated this past year as part of the inaugural class of Alabama Schweitzer Fellows. 

Sarah Waller is marketing and communication coordinator for the College of Health Sciences.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.