Recipients are making a difference by improving Air Force flight simulators, preventing occupational injuries, counseling patients in Africa and improving health education in Costa Rica.

Four students were recently awarded Walden University fellowships for their dedication to positive social change in their professions and communities. Walden's National Public Service Fellowship was awarded to Jason Jackson in the School of Management. Master's Fellowships were awarded to three applicants: Christopher SanGiovanni and Kelly Wheeler in the School of Health and Human Services, and Robin Peterson in the School of Psychology.
 
The National Public Service Fellowship is for doctoral students who are serving at the national level: in the federal government or in a nonprofit organization that has a mission to serve the nation in its entirety (e.g., Red Cross, American Cancer Society, American Council on Education). Each fellowship is an annual (12-month) appointment, carries a remission of tuition and fees of $1,500 per academic year plus a waiver of the graduation processing fee, and is renewable up to a total of three years. Two fellowships will be available in September.
 
Master's Fellowships are awarded to eligible applicants who are pursuing their master's degree to enhance their personal development and contribute to the advancement of their chosen field. Award recipients receive a 20 percent reduction in tuition (for two years) and a waiver of the graduation processing fee. Applications are reviewed competitively twice a year as available. Three fellowships will be available in September, one for a student in the School of Management and two for students in the School of Education.
 
Jason Jackson: Developing Leadership-Decision Software
As a U.S. Air Force captain, Jason Jackson has flown as senior navigator in the C-130 Hercules transport aircraft to more than 60 countries. This includes his role supporting U.N. and NATO relief efforts during Operation Allied Force in Kosovo, a region in the former Yugoslavia. In each case, the National Public Service Fellowship recipient's mission was to deliver personnel, supplies and food for military and humanitarian missions.

Jackson is now the chief navigator in charge of simulation certification at the Air Force Air Mobility Command, Air Operations Squadron, Detachment 3, in Little Rock, Ark. "Our C-130 schoolhouse produces over 100 international students annually, many from developing nations," says the Ph.D. candidate in Applied Management and Decision Sciences specializing in Information Systems Management.

Jackson says that information systems tie into his work with C-130 simulators, which in turn aids all Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and NATO C-130 aircrew. "By studying information systems and working toward my dissertation … I will be able to help develop leadership-decision software to help leadership make better decisions more quickly," Jackson says. "My vision is to write my dissertation and also create a proof-of-concept software application. The software will be distributed using Java programming, and leaders will be able to use the program globally from a Web browser."
 
Christopher SanGiovanni: Preventing Occupational Injuries
"Health is more than the absence of disease," says Christopher SanGiovanni, Master's Fellowship recipient, "it contributes to the quality of life."
 
As the manager of health and safety at JetBlue Airways, the M.S. in Public Health student is in the business of ensuring that JetBlue's 8,000 employees return home from work as healthy as when they left. He ensures that employees have equipment, training, safety procedures and work areas that not only meet regulatory requirements but exceed them. SanGiovanni says his coursework at Walden has enhanced his effectiveness, particularly the concepts and designs in his epidemiology course. "They have given me a better understanding of how to best approach injury and illness prevention," he says.
 
It is SanGiovanni's goal to extend his reach beyond his specialization in occupational safety to ultimately work in a state or local health department, a federal public health agency or a private organization such as the Red Cross. "I would like to work for an organization that has a proven commitment to the welfare of the entire population," he says.
 
Robin Peterson: Counseling in Tanzania
As a counselor for the Regional Government Hospital in Arusha, Tanzania (East Africa), Robin Peterson, an M.S. in Psychology student, treats patients with post-traumatic stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions. Peterson, who is fluent in Swahili, works with a range of clients: men, women and children from Islamic, Christian and traditional African religions, as well as expatriate Westerners.
 
"I am trained in cognitive behavioral therapy and am interested in researching clinical techniques for these different groups and applying that knowledge to my present working environment," says the Master's Fellowship recipient, who has lived in Tanzania, where her family owns a safari company, since 1982.
 
Says Peterson: "I feel I am in [an ideal] position to do some very good cross-cultural research and to contribute something valuable to the science of psychology."
 
Kelly Wheeler: Improving Health Education
Kelly Wheeler's desire to become a health educator for indigent populations was born more than eight years ago when she discovered poverty in her own Houston suburb and began volunteering at a food pantry. Later, the Master's Fellowship recipient worked as a medical missions volunteer and Spanish translator in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico.
 
"These community service experiences left an indelible impression in my mind," says the M.S. in Public Health student. Her desire turned to action when she moved to Costa Rica a few years ago and was confronted with outbreaks of dengue fever, malaria and tuberculosis.

Wheeler is pursuing her degree while her husband is studying to become a primary care physician. Alongside her husband, she hopes to work with marginalized populations across the globe, promoting healthier lifestyles and teaching disease-risk avoidance/reduction.

"In essence, the master's will enable me to effectively engage community members … to establish successful community health education programs, and to take a proactive role in improving the health of the indigent," she says.
 
—By Danielle Sweeney