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UHLC student takes yoga to the homeless as Schweitzer Fellow 

Jonathan Chatham doing Vasisthasana (side plank pose) on the Law Center patio

Jonathan Chatham doing Vasisthasana (side plank pose) on the Law Center patio.

May 9, 2014 -- Jonathan Chatham has taken his belief of a healthy mind in a healthy body from a middle school classroom to the halls of the University of Houston Law Center and soon to the streets of Houston where he will help the homeless for the next year as an Albert Schweitzer Fellow.

Chatham was chosen with 12 other Houston-Galveston area graduate students for the prestigious fellowship “to effectively address the social factors that impact health, and developing lifelong leadership skills,” following in the footsteps of famed physician-humanitarian Albert Schweitzer.

A yoga devotee and instructor, Chatham will spend the year working with In-Powered, a non-profit organization that reaches out to schools, communities, and other groups to develop character, motivation, social skills, and goal-setting through the self-disciplined practice of yoga and meditation.

“My fellowship project will supplement and expand the efforts of In-Powered to reach a greater number of Houston's homeless population with mindfulness training, meditation, and therapeutic yoga,” Chatham said. “The goal of this project is to have a direct impact on the health and wellness of Houston's homeless.” 

He has been practicing yoga since 2011 and taught two classes a week at the Law Center during the winter to help students relieve some of the stress of finals and demanding professors.

Chatham was urged to apply for the fellowship by Professor Jessica Mantel, director of the Health Law & Policy Institute, and Sondra Tennessee, associate dean for student affairs. He went through a multi-stage application and interview process before his selection for the fellowship that comes with a $2,500 stipend.

“Jonathan has impressed me as having a sharp mind, a dedicated work ethic, strong leadership skills, and a personable manner,” Mantel said. “What sets him apart are both his keen intellect and passion and commitment for public service, particularly in the health law context.”

Chatham, 33, a native of Kerrville, managed a mortgage company for a few years before college, majored in English rhetoric and horticulture at Texas A&M, and then spent five years teaching math to middle-schoolers before entering law school. He plans to practice in healthcare finance and regulation or education law after he graduates in 2016.

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