Student Capstone Projects

These are some of many successful capstone projects of student alumni of the program. We have selected four key disciplinary categories to categorize these projects. The categories are as follows-- you can click on these links to jump to the section:

Pedagogy, Education, and Curriculum Development
Multi-Disciplinary Health
Public Policy
Community Building, Organizing, and Social Media


Pedagogy, Education, and Curriculum Development

Sharon J. Glezen (2014) - MD, FACP.  Williams College, 1983; University of Connecticut School of Medicine, 1987

Sharon conducted a review of existing LGBT health curricula and literature on LGBT education in leading medical schools in order toredesign the first year medical school curriculum in LGBT healthat the University of Rochester Medical School.

The curriculum incorporates components of a “flipped classroom” design as well as training in communication skills regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, and comprehensive content addressing specific health care needs of LGBT patients that will translate into improved patient care.

Mentors: Kristen Eckstrand, Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Jesse Ehrenfeld, MD, MPH, associate professor in Departments of Anesthesiology and Biomedical Informatics, Vanderbilt School of Medicine, Nashville, TN. Both are co-Directors, Vanderbilt School of Medicine Program for LGBTI Health. 

Nicholas E. Grant (2014) - Ph.D. ‘15 in Clinical Psychology, Palo Alto University, California

Nick developed a diversity training guide and presentation materials to educate frontline service providers of aging sexual minority populations. This aims to facilitate respectful and culturally sensitive communication when underserved populations make preliminary contacts with agencies serving older adults.

Partner: Charter Wellness, a San Francisco Bay Area agency offering physical and mental health providers as well as community and social components for healthy aging.

Mentor: Laura Natta, founder, Cross Point Wellness, Redwood City/San Carlos, CA.


Chris Obermeyer (2015) - M.Ed.’13 in Curriculum and Instruction, Education Policy and Leadership, American University, Washington, D.C., B.Sc.’10 (Hons.) in Biology and Religious Studies and ’09 (Hons) Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science, Western Kentucky University Bowling Green, KY.

Chris researched problems in the health curricula of secondary schools, specifically sexual education programs and education about LGBTQ issues. He found that the population of LGB youth in the United States is close to 750,000, and that these youth experience higher rates of use of substances, including cigarettes, drugs, and alcohol, psychiatric disorders and suicidal thoughts, and are more likely to engage in risk behaviors like unprotected sex and sex with more than one partner. His findings in regards to sexual education showed that schools in the United States are not always required to teach sexual education, and those that are often emphasize abstinence programs with no regard for the sexual health of LGBTQ populations.

Chris’s recommendations, based on his findings, included discussions of sex, gender, and sexual orientation in sexual education classes, methods of protection from pregnancy and STIs, healthy relationships, positive representations of different types of families, and the mandated use of non-gendered terminology in classes. His capstone project stated that these changes could initiate cultural changes and shifts toward acceptance and healthy living for LGBTQ youth.

Pearl L. Outland (2014) - B.S. ’13 in Psychology, University of Wisconsin at Parkside

Pearl developed a plan to expand current public middle and high school HIV curriculum from focusing solely on the individual’s role in preventing transmission, to include an examination of the interpersonal factors that contribute to the spread of HIV.Information is delivered in a culturally competent manner that is highly accessible to all students and available on-line for free, eliminating time and expense to educate individual teachers on how to teach this type of curriculum.

Materials and assignments focus on the particular socio-cultural concerns of LGBT youth. Some stimuli have heterosexual or cisgender subjects, to be relevant and usable in public school classrooms, which contain a mix of heterosexual and LGBT individuals.

Mentor: Jolie McKenna MS, Executive Director of the LGBT Center of Southeastern Wisconsin.

Carly A. Scarton (2014) - B.S. ’08 Saint Francis University, Loretto, Pa., M.Ed. ’10 and Ph.D. 2015 in Counselor Education & Supervision Program, The Pennsylvania State University

Carly wrote a children’s book, unique in its presentation and subject matter, that centers on lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender issues. The book illuminates injustices faced by the LGBT population and help children learn about ways they can advocate for social change.  It also adds to the counseling field by producing empirically driven work that informs the final product.

The ultimate aim is to integrate this children’s book into guidance lessons or elementary school curriculum. The health focus is on the mental health and wellbeing of the LGBT population, in the hopes of reducing stigma and encouraging children to become allies and advocates.

Mentor: Talcott Broadhead, M.S.W.; Social justice advocate based in Washington State.


Ronald  L. Schlittler (2014) - B.A. ‘94 in Journalism and Sociology, University of Oregon,Master of International Policy & Practice ’09, George Washington University

Ron developed a train-the-trainer workshop that can be conducted by webinar and at international psychology conferences to provide psychologists around the world with an evidence-based framework for working with local LGBTI human rights community leaders to develop culturally specific well-being resiliency strategies.

The workshops also help develop prejudice reduction activities grounded in intergroup contact theory that are culturally specific. Partners: The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Concerns Office at the American Psychological Association and the International Psychology Network for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex Issues.

Mentor: Sharon G. Horne, Ph.D., Graduate Program Director, Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Boston.


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Multi-Disciplinary Health

Damian Cabrera Candelaria (2015) - M.A. 2015 in Sociology, University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras Campus, B.S. ‘11 Industrial Biotechnology and Industrial Microbiology, Mayagüez Campus, Puerto Rico

Damián developed a LGBT Health Services Directory based in and designed for Puerto Rico that aims to create a network of LGBT-friendly medical providers. Damián found The Directory was developed in response to research which showed that a number of LGBT individuals in Puerto Rico experience health disparities due to inferior care. Future recommendations aim towards increased cultural sensibility trainings and broadening the directory to include housing, employment, and other areas with disparities in them.


Colin J. Davis (2014) - B.S. ‘12 in Biology and English, College of William & Mary, Williamsburg, Va and James Monroe Scholar and pre-med graduate

Colin researched the Millennial LGBT experience as a Healthcare Consumer. Qualitative research on the experiences of LGBT patients with the healthcare system has drawn attention to the concerning practice of heteronormative sometimes perceived as hostile administration of care in ways that can be alienating to the LGBT patient and consequently discouraging of further healthcare utilization. 

However, no research has focused specifically on the experiences and perceptions of the Millennial cohort, a historically and culturally unique subset of the LGBT population born approximately between 1984 and 2000. Through the use of a peer-driven focus group, I qualitatively identified themes of attitudes, perceptions and experiences of healthcare as a Millennial LGBT in order to inform future research toward the development of healthcare practices, which will be both affirmative and culturally competent for generations of LGBT patients to come. 

Mentor: Dr. Richard Ruth teaches and mentors students in the Psy.D. program in the Professional Psychology Program at The George Washington University


Kristen J. Hartwick (2015) - B.S. ‘14 in Public Health, minor in Biology (pre-med), George Washington University, Emergency Medicine Communication Specialist at Medical Faculty Associates in Washington, D.C.

Kristen’s capstone research centered around gender nonconforming youth in the Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia (DMV) Metropolitan Area, specifically those who are patients at Children’s National Medical Center in the Gender and Sexuality Development Program. This program sees about thirty to fifty children each year, and these children are screened with a Gender Identity Questionnaire, which Kristen studied in detail. She analyzed the questions and weighed the advantages and disadvantages of the questionnaire that was in use, including its efficiency and convenience, and its use of a binary gender system. Kristen also studied this questionnaire and other commonly used questionnaires in relation to gender fluidity and gender identity and dysphoria.

Kristen made conclusions based on her research and observations of presently used gender identity questionnaires, and created a revised gender identity questionnaire that incorporated factors like non-binary language and removing assigned pronouns. She also noted that other aspects of a child’s life, like social development, school history, and environment and stressors should be incorporated into future questionnaires to promote inclusivity and for researchers to gain a full understanding of each child’s experience with gender.

Gregory Haskin (2014) - B.A. ’13 in Psychology, George Washington University

Gregory researched different approaches to speech feminization and masculinization including speech articulation, rate, intonation, pragmatics, and resonance. He developed a short presentation for patients explaining major concerns related to speech feminization and masculinization as part of the process of a transition.

The aim is to limit psychological distress in patients, increase caregiver knowledge, and build more productive provider-patient relationships for transgender individuals.

Mentor: Dr. Adrienne B. Hancock, Assistant Professor of Speech and Hearing Science, School of Speech and Hearing, The George Washington University.

Cramer McCullen (2014) - M.D 2016, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Cramer conducted a systematic literature review of data since 1987 regarding LGBT populations and smoking cessation under the project title Smoking Cessation among Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Populations. Higher rates of smoking in LGBT populations compared to heterosexual peers is due to minority stress, discrimination, tobacco marketing, acceptance, and social network structures.

This publishable review of data, available nationwide and worldwide to providers and intervention programs for LGBT populations, will impact the standard of care guidelines for LGBT smoking cessation and direct future research endeavors.

Mentor: Joseph Lee, Doctoral Candidate, UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health- Health Behavior Ph.D. program, Chapel Hill, North Carolina.


Nathaniel D. Swift-Erslev (2014) - B.S.’11 in Nursing, B.A. in Sociology & Certificate in Women’s Studies, University of Pittsburgh

Nathaniel performed a gap analysis to identify baseline data onpatient portal usability and barriers to portal adoption. Information gathered will help develop interventions to increase number of portal enabled patients and effectiveness of the portal to support clinical outcomes for HIV+ LGBT patients in an urban community health clinic.

Partner: MetroHealth community health clinic in Washington, DC with recently implemented eCW Patient Portal. A safety-net provider, MetroHealth serves a large portion of LGBT identified patients and 30% of clients are HIV+. Currently, only 25% of clients are portal activated, with no data on frequency or type of functions being used.

Mentor: Murray Penner, Deputy Executive Director, NASTAD (National Alliance of State and Territorial AIDS Directors), Washington, DC.


Adam R. Ward (2015) - M.S.’14 in Comparative Biomedical Sciences and B.S.’11 in Environmental Sciences, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC

Adam surveyed medical providers and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex (LGBTI)-identified students at North Carolina State University (NCSU) and assessed medical providers knowledge of, and comfort with, LGBTI health issues and patients. He also gathered information on LGBTI-identified students’ healthcare experience, health-related behaviors, and healthcare needs, at NC State University. 

Adam’s results revealed that medical providers felt as having fair or poor knowledge on certain topics and indicated as wanting to know more, and that sexual health history check-ups have often been missing or inconsistent from their routines.  For LGBTI students, the survey results showed that their medical providers rarely asked about sexual orientation or gender identity. From the survey results, Adam developed several recommendations for NCSU to adopt in order to address the needs of LGBTI students which include tailored “Project SAFE” training for medical providers, creation of a “sexual health” visit type in the SHS Healthweb appointment system, and providing student with more opportunities to learn about sexual health and STI testing resources.

Public Policy

John P. Cullen (2014) - Ph.D. ’99 in Cardiovascular Pharmacology, Queens University, Belfast, Ireland

John was successful in getting the University of Rochester to provide transition-related coverage to treat gender dysphoria in student and employee health benefits plans. This addresses health insurance disparities for the transgender population at the University of Rochester and promotes an environment where all employee and student human dignity is respected. The University of Rochester is a private research university in upstate New York with approximately 22,000 faculty/staff and 9,000 students. It is the largest employer in the Rochester region and 6th largest private employer in New York State.

Mentor: Jamison Green, J.D. Transsexual author and advocate, President-Elect of the World Professional Association for Transgender Health

Jeff Goodman (2014) - B.A. ’79 in Political Science, Tufts University; M.P.H. 2013, San Jose State University

Jeff developed a policy statement and recommendations on the topic of LGBT bullying.  The statement is scheduled for approval in January 2014 by the LGBT Caucus of Public Health Professionals and submitted to the American Public Health Association for endorsement by that organization which is a six-month process. 

The LGBT Caucus provides educational interchange, opportunities for LGBT and APHA members to combat homophobia and heterosexism, and ensure that LGBT public health issues are addressed through APHA policy mechanisms. An independent organization, the LGBT Caucus is chartered to submit policy proposals to APHA’s Action Board and Governing Council.

Mentor: Dr. Peter Shin, Ph.D., M.P.H., is Director of the Geiger Gibson Program (GGP) in Community Health Policy, and Associate Professor in the GW Milken Institute of Public Health.

Community Building, Organizing, and Social Media

Gretchen Gasteier (2014) - B.A. ’12 in Woman’s Studies & Public Health, George Washington University

Gretchen developed a program to reduce stigma of lesbian and bisexual women who are HIV+ in South Africa, offer a support system for women who feel socially isolated, and increase rates oftreatment adherence to HIV medication. Partners: local and national South African organizations that work with lesbian and bisexual women on health care and HIV activism.

Mentor: Julie Ost, Sexual Health Education Specialist, Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington, DC. 


Lore Espinoza Guerrero (2015) B.A. ’12 (Cum Laude) in International Studies, Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT, Study abroad at Universidad de Guadalajara, Mexico; Università di Roma La Sapienza, Rome, Italy

Lore’s capstone project centered around the climate for LGBTQ people in Colombia, where LGBTQ people experience high amounts of discrimination, health disparities, and lack of access to government services and healthcare. In response to this, Lore formed Tacones Morados Research and Art Collective, a non-profit organization for LGBTQ-identified Latin-American people. Tacones Morados has three lines of action: Art Participation and Workshops, Wellbeing Actions, and Research. The organization is in its first stage of action, which is primarily identifying resources established under Colombian law, and researching and publicizing the disparities that LGBTQ Colombians face, specifically transgender populations. Tacones Morados has also delivered hygiene kits on a monthly basis to those in need since August 2014 and has organized clothing drives, art workshops, and leisure activities. The organization plans to continue with its research and expand its reach to LGBTQ populations in Colombia and across Latin America.

Lore Espinoza Guerrero was awarded the Director's Award for Most Impactful Capstone Project 2014-2015 at the 2015 LGBT Health Forum.

Mathew Kaye (2014) - B.A. ’13 in Psychology, minor in English, GW’s Columbian College of Arts

Mathew researched and analyzed Gay Straight Alliance groups (GSAs) in the Washington, DC school system. I interviewed the members of a number of GSAs, to assess their effectiveness in making the school a safe environment for LGBT students.

I discovered what allows some GSAs to be successful while others fail. Experts in this field analyzed my results, in order to understand how GSAs can be improved in order to be more effective.

Mentor: Anika Warner, GSA network specialist for SMYAL, which empowers, supports, and mentors LGBT youth advocates and leaders.

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