Meet the Point Foundation’s Class of 2010

The Point Foundation searches for the best and brightest LGBT students.

BY Advocate.com Editors

June 15 2010 1:10 PM ET

1 PIXEL GIF | ADVOCATE.COM

 

2010 POINT FOUNDATION SCHOLARS04 X560 (COURTESY) | ADVOCATE.COM 

Derek Blechinger
-from Minneapolis
- pursuing MD and MPH degrees at University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle
- Rand Skolnick Point Scholarship recipient

Blechinger believes in medicine as social justice. Growing up gay in rural Minnesota provided him an important perspective into the struggles of stigmatized populations. Blechinger struggled with his sexuality in school, in church, at home, and even in his doctor’s office. The community in which he was raised believed that homosexuality was deeply wrong and could be “cured.” Lessons learned from coming out during that time provided Blechinger with insight into the varied issues with which many minorities grapple. During college Blechinger cochaired the GLBTA student group, helped establish a GSA at a local high school, and actively fought to remove a reparative therapy movement starting on campus.

After an internship at District 202, an LGBT youth center in Minneapolis, Blechinger started his career in HIV services at the Minnesota AIDS Project. Two years later he took a position at the Red Door Clinic, Minnesota’s largest HIV/STD clinic, where he provided HIV testing and counseling services. At the clinic, he developed online outreach programming, ran a syphilis elimination project called "StopSyphilisNOW," and facilitated several inpatient and outpatient support groups for gay and bisexual men living with HIV and struggling with addiction. The powerful role a physician can play inspired Blechinger to become a doctor — not only an exemplary diagnostician, but a compassionate healer for those marginalized by their sexuality or gender. He plans on using his education at University of Washington Medical School to launch a public health clinic offering culturally specific medical and mental health care for LGBT people.

"For years, I worked in gay/bi men's health doing HIV/STD testing and counseling, with an increased focus on the dramatic rise in HIV in young gay/bi men," Blechinger says. "As a doctor, I will be able to do so much more for LGBT individuals. As a medical director of an LGBT public health clinic, I will be able to better serve the community. And as a Point Scholar, I will be able to increase the scope of my advocacy and make a real impact."

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