Heather Fowler selected for Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award

Doctoral student Heather Fowler will be honored with a community service award on January 15 at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute event.

The award honors individuals or groups who exemplify Martin Luther King’s principles: a commitment to the needs of communities, particularly communities of color and low income; to programs that improve the human condition; and efforts to protect and empower all individuals.

Fowler is driven by her two passions—public health and animal medicine. Clinically trained in veterinary medicine, Heather Fowler wanted to use her background to help those less fortunate.

Saturdays, she volunteers at the Union Gospel Mission Doney Memorial Clinic, which provides free veterinary care for pets whose owners may not have much income or no home at all.

“These animals are providing them with psychosocial support and companionship,” said Fowler, who added, “People come to the Doney Clinic for the sake of their animals, even if they are reluctant to access other social services.”

Fowler is a 2nd year student in the Environmental and Occupational Hygiene program in the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences in the School of Public Health.  She works with Associate Professor Peter Rabinowitz in the Center for One Health Research.

Sick pets can pose health risks to their owners, explained Fowler. By treating the animals, she can help protect their caretakers.

In addition to the Doney Clinic, Fowler volunteered this fall at the Remote Area Medical at the Seattle Center, where she counseled homeless and low-income patients about their animals’ health.  She hopes to develop a joint animal-human clinic to treat those who are disadvantaged and their pets at one location.

She also takes part in activities aimed at Seattle youth considering careers in public health and healthcare.

“It hasn’t always been easy being a minority in many points of my training,” said Fowler. “I enjoy being a resource for the coming generation.”

Fowler also is a member of the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health Sciences’ Diversity Committee, which aims to recruit, mentor, and retain underrepresented minority faculty, staff, and students; to welcome and reflect diversity throughout the department and in the course materials and methodologies.

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Tribute is sponsored by the University of Washington Health Sciences Administration and UW Medical Center. The event is from 11:30 a.m. – 1:15 pm in the Warren G. Magnuson Health Sciences Lobby, with the award ceremony around 12:50 pm.