Editor’s note: This is the inaugural year for CultureMap’s Top Texans Under 30, a program that celebrates the twentysomething power players making a difference in their industries and communities across the Lone Star State — and, in some cases, the world. The full list is here. For now, read all about Dr. Dakota Carter.
Founder of the Gay-Straight Alliance at the McGovern Medical School (formerly UTHealth), Dr. Dakota Carter has become one of the leading champions of LGBTQ mental health. He’s written LGBTQ health curriculum for McGovern Medical School and Baylor College School of Medicine, and he maintains a clinical practice in Houston.
He’s also the Democratic nominee for the State Board of Education District 6 — the first openly gay candidate for the board — and he’s currently pursuing his second doctorate in education. Dr. Carter is certainly busy, but he seems to be inexhaustible in his mission to help LGBTQ youth.
The 28-year-old was named to the APA/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship program in July 2016, one of the oldest and most respected residency fellowships with the American Psychological Association and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. This funding will allow Dr. Carter to continue his work in LGBTQ mental health research.
We chatted with Dr. Carter to learn more about his mission.
CultureMap: What inspires you to do what you do?
Dakota Carter: I love giving back. I feel so blessed for the many wonderful opportunities in discovering my passion for my career, giving back to my community, and attempting to make a difference.
My family’s philosophy has always been to tackle problems when you see them and give back. I do this every day, from my clinical practice and research to help my patients and their families, to brainstorming with my campaign team to ensure that we are fighting for all Texans.
Running for office as a young person is challenging, but it is vital for our generation to be engaged. We need more young people present for decisions and discussions to utilize their unique talents and creativity to improve our great state, country, and world.
CM: What’s one piece of advice you’d give to other Texans trying to make a difference by innovating?
DC: It’s something I tell all the kiddos I see: “Stay true to yourself and use your voice!” We all have something to contribute, and everyone deserves a place at the table. New, bold ideas really can change the world.
CM: Sum up Texas in three words.
DC: Diverse. Boundless. Home.
CM: What’s one thing that people might not know about you?
DC: I grew up on a ranch in West Texas. Before college, I rodeoed and was an avid horseback rider.
CM: Finish this sentence: “It’s a good day when … ”
DC: It’s a good day when, after a long day on the campaign trail or working with patients – or both! – I can come home to my awesome dog and start a Netflix binge.
RSVP now for the CultureMap Social: Top Texans Under 30 Edition, October 6 at Tootsies, to celebrate Carter and his fellow Houston winners.