If you Google “Michael Haymer,” you'll find the UCLA medical student has been receiving awards and scholarships for his HIV/AIDS studies and/or LGBT activism since his high school days in Fullerton.
Now comes another. Haymer, who is pursuing a joint MD-MBA degree from the PRIME Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, is among the latest LGBT students pursuing studies in HIV/AIDS or business being awarded financial assistance from the Point Foundation.
Haymer has said he didn't even know if a gay man could become a doctor while he was a high school student in Fullerton. Now he's well on his way to proving one can, having graduated from UCLA with a B.S. in ecology and evolutionary biology in 2010. He has now started his third year of studies at the Geffen School and PRIME, a five-year program aimed at developing leaders in medicine who address policy, care and research issues in healthcare for the under served.
Besides money from the Point Scholarship, which is supported by Janssen Therapeutics, “Haymer will be matched with a successful professional who can serve as his mentor and role model,” according to a statement from the organization.
“With this scholarship, I look forward to setting an example for other LGBT students interested in healthcare and continuing the tradition of Point Scholars,” Haymer says in the same statement.
He and his four siblings were raised by their single mother, who died from complications of under-treated diabetes during his first year of medical school. As a tribute to her, Haymer focused his studies on serving under-resourced and vulnerable populations–despite becoming a vulnerable population of one as he spent a year homeless while studying at a community college.
He would not be deterred.
“Seeing her struggle with preventable problems really showed me that I could make a difference,” Haymer recently told UCLA Today.
His particular interest is in the area of transgender healthcare. He directed the LGBT Health Student Symposium, which hosted more than 100 students from across the country. For that, he received the UCLA Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Award.
“Michael has embraced the transgender community that is often the target of ridicule, bullying and, as we witnessed recently in Hollywood, sometimes assault,” Dr. Sebastian Uijtdehaage, a UCLA adjunct professor and researcher who nominated Haymer for the university award, told UCLA Today.
“Because of this stigma, they are disenfranchised from good medical care,” Uijtdehaage continued. “To make matters worse, physicians feel ill-prepared in caring for transgender patients. In the short time that Michael has been a medical student, he has already made a huge difference on campus. Thanks to Michael, transgender patients will now feel welcomed at our hospital and have gained access to the same superb care as everyone else.”