PT student Haley Boccomino strives to improve health care for LGBTQ and other underrepresented populations

"Coming out is often portrayed as a single action with a concrete beginning and end," said doctor of physical therapy candidate Haley Boccomino. "In my experience, however, it has been a continuous, lifelong process - I came out as transgender during my first year of graduate school and I repeat the process every day when I ask someone to use correct pronouns."Haley Boccomino

As the first openly transgender person accepted into Wayne State's physical therapy program, Boccomino (whose pronouns are they/them) hopes to help educate fellow future medical professionals and ensure improved care for transgender patients.

In fact, Boccomino aims to ensure that everyone - regardless of gender, sexuality, ethnicity or socioeconomic status - receives the care they need. Their effort is now being funded in part through a Eugene Applebaum College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences Dean's Endowed Recruitment Scholarship.

"Haley's application stood out because of their undergraduate volunteer experience with the LightUp program for children with special needs and their current work with our student-run probono SAY Detroit PT clinic," said Occupational Therapy Program Director Doreen Head, who leads the selection committee for the scholarship that past Interim Dean Howard Normile created to help offset tuition costs for students who have overcome obstacles related to socioeconomics, discrimination or personal adversity. "We're proud of Haley and look forward to seeing the good work they'll continue to do at WSU and in Detroit."

One way Boccomino is pursuing their goal of inclusivity is by helping create a three-hour educational lecture on LGBTQ patient care for presentation at the DMC Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan, saying, "I hope to incite policy changes that improve care for LGBTQ people."

Boccomino, who is on track to graduate in December 2022, transferred to Wayne State University from Macomb Community College after being offered an athletic scholarship when they began their bachelor of health sciences program in 2016. "The best part about coming to Wayne State was making lifelong friends on the cross country and track teams, some of whom went on to become my classmates at WSU Applebaum," they said. "I stayed for my graduate degree because I fell in love with Detroit and met so many great people at Wayne State."

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