Throughout the month of July, we will be sharing the inspiring essays from our Spirit of Dru Scholarship recipients. Please enjoy Austin Hopkins' essay - he just graduated from Ohio Northern University.
I first began contributing to the LGBTQ community by being a founding member of my high school’s Gay Straight Alliance. Later, I would go on to serve as a co-president my junior year and solely took the presidential role by my senior year. In my time in the GSA, I had worked to make sure that the staff and faculty had been trained on addressing issues pertaining to LGBTQ students. More than half of staff dedicated their rooms to being safe spaces for them as well as combating bullying directed at someone’s sexual orientation. I also worked to have same-sex representation during our school’s annual prom fashion show. My contributions in high school allowed me to be one of PFLAG’s Scholars in 2012. My family are members of the Cincinnati PFLAG group and have marched with them to represent PFLAG for several years in the Cincinnati Pride Parade.
I was actively involved in Ohio Northern’s on campus “Open Doors” LGBTQ group. I participate in week-to-week business and in, The Rubi Affair, their annual charity event. The Rubi Affair is an annual drag show in which student performers, as well as a professional group of drag queens, raise money for charity. The Rubi Girls perform to raise money for the AIDS resource center (ARC) in Lima, Ohio. In my performances alone, I have raised over $2000 dollars for the ARC and reigned as Miss ONU for 2 years. Doing drag for charity has given me so much more appreciation for the role and impact drag performers have in the LGBTQ community. After my last show, it came full circle for me, I raised about the same amount of money that my PFLAG scholarship was worth that got me to ONU in the first place. In way, it was my version of paying it forward to the queens who helped raise money for the PFLAG scholarship.
My contributions to LGBTQ community during my time at Ohio Northern weren’t all social. I write for the College of Pharmacy’s student run research and publication journal, the Pharmacy and Wellness (PAW) Review. My personal highlight was to write an article on providing proper health care to patients who are transgender, be it male-to-female or female-to-male. The article focused on pharmacologic therapies patients can use, their efficacy in generating desired side effects that alter the patient’s appearance to conform to their gender identity, and provide a generalized timeline of transition based on certain physiological changes. During this project, I felt proud that as an academic publication, ONU is working to educated not just pharmacists, but nurses and physicians as well about the medical needs of the transgender community. This topic was recently presented at the Ohio Pharmacist Association annual conference and information on how to care and treat a transgender patient was sought out by health care providers from all major cities. I am proud to be a progressive provider and will continue to do so as a pharmacist for the LGBTQ+ community and my allies.