Nicholas Brito: An emerging leader for LGBTQ+ advocacy

Nicholas Brito, a second-year student at the University of Florida College of Pharmacy, is an emerging trailblazer in advocating for LGBTQ+ equity at the university level and in the broader Gainesville community.

Brito’s interest in health advocacy within minority communities began during his first semester of pharmacy school in 2022. He took a required course called Pharmacy and Population Health, which enlightened him about the varying health outcomes across multiple communities.

“Before pharmacy school, I was not aware of the extent to which various populations experience different health outcomes,” Brito said. “The class inspired me to find ways to advocate for the LGBTQ+ community.”

Brito became a member of the LGBTQ+ & Allies Subcommittee, a student-led committee dedicated to LGBTQ+ visibility, awareness and support within the college.

Under the leadership of Oliver Grundmann, Ph.D., a clinical professor and assistant dean of lifelong learning,the committee’s goal is to coordinate events, offer resources and schedule health experts to speak to student pharmacists about the needs of LGBTQ+ patients.

Brito strongly believes that these health experts offer invaluable insights to student pharmacists, enriching their knowledge of patient care topics.

“Our curriculum at UF is so focused on patient-centered care, we want to provide more information to student pharmacists regarding LGBTQ+ health disparities,” Brito said.

Brito’s dedication shines through his work with the LGBTQ+ & Allies Subcommittee, but his advocacy doesn’t stop there. In the spring of 2023, he was elected as the Gainesville campus’ Operation Pride Co-Chair, along with Julia Hetzel. The role is a subdivision of the American Pharmacist Association – Academy of Student Pharmacists, or APhA-ASP, focusing on addressing health determinants that affect the LGBTQ+ community.

Pride Pin

Brito’s most recent initiative was leading the design of the new pride pin. Through his creative input, the pin saw tremendous success, generating over $500 in sales at the Gainesville Pride Festival in October. A portion of the proceeds were pledged to the Gainesville chapter of Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, or PFLAG, an organization devoted to offering support, education and advocacy for LGBTQ+ individuals and their families.

Speaking passionately about the significance of the pride pin, Brito emphasized its potential impact within health care settings.

“Health providers displaying the pride pin symbolizes a solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community,” he said. “Patients feel a sense of comfort knowing they are in a supportive environment, ultimately leading to improved health outcomes.”

Looking ahead, Brito is excited about serving as a UF College of Pharmacy student ambassador in 2024 and exploring the many career opportunities available in pharmacy. While uncertain about a specific career path, his commitment to advocating for the LGBTQ+ community remains unwavering.