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Marquette University Alumni Association

Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Recipients

Young Alumna of the Year Award


“Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.”

This adage — Dr. Gretchen Heinrichs’ favorite — clearly reflects her compassionate work as an accomplished young OB-GYN physician and researcher who travels far and wide from Colorado to help women living in places where basic human rights are denied.

From India to Rwanda, Gretchen has trained physicians, nurses and health care workers about gender-based violence, family planning and maternal health issues. This stems from her work as director of the Center for Global Health’s Maternal Health Initiatives at the Colorado School of Public Health. Even when stateside, Gretchen helps otherwise helpless women born abroad. She’s currently helping implement a pregnancy register to monitor and improve health among Guatemalans and performs medical exams on female victims of torture seeking asylum in the U.S. at Denver Health.  

But that’s only half of her professional equation. Gretchen also teaches obstetrics and gynecology to residents and medical students at Denver Health and the University of Colorado School of Medicine and has been recognized with several teaching awards since 2006.   

Gretchen does all that she does because it’s about opportunity. “I have been given so much opportunity … education, support from family and friends, access to resources … being born in a country that allows women the chance to thrive,” she says. “I strive to reach out to women in more difficult circumstances, who have had fewer opportunities — to help them, inspire them, care for them and share with them the love that I have been given.”

That said, Gretchen perhaps does the Confucian adage one better: Her heart leads her everywhere she goes.

Get to Know: Dr. Gretchen A. Heinrichs

Hometown: Elkhart, Ind. 

Favorite quote:  “Wheresoever you go, go with all your heart.” Confucius

Someone past or present she’d like to have dinner with: Jane Goodall and Albert Schweiter

In grade school Gretchen wanted to be a doctor or a veterinarian.

Most influential in Gretchen’s life: “Probably my mom and dad.  My mom because she inspired me with my love of adventure and a desire to teach, through her work in the Peace Corps in Ethiopia in the 1960’s and her 30+ years of teaching elementary school.  My dad for modeling the reflection, the faith, the ethics and the conscientiousness of being a human in this world, a being on to others,” Gretchen says.