- The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation has awarded $10,000 scholarships to 6 minority students pursuing degrees in health care for 2023.
- Recipients are chosen by the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) – Memphis Chapter.
- The foundation has awarded $415,000 to 44 students.
Every year since 2013, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation has awarded $10,000 scholarships to outstanding students pursuing careers in health care.
“The BlueCross Power of We Scholarship is one way we’ve been working toward health equity,” says Ron Harris, vice president of corporate workforce diversity at BlueCross. “We are proud to support some of our state’s brightest students, and we hope they will use their unique insights and experiences to help deliver high-quality care for all Tennesseans.”
We spoke to the 2023 BlueCross Power of We Scholars about their goals and how the scholarship will help them. Here are stories from Anthony, Farraday and Zakiya:
Baptist Health Sciences University
Memphis native Anthony Guinn first considered a career in nursing after hearing about it from his mother, who has been a nurse since he was 7 years old.
“Mom would come home smiling with stories about helping people, and I just loved the idea of that,” Anthony says. “I have a passion for the Lord and for people. Nursing seemed like a really good fit for me – it’s kind of like service-oriented gospel.”
“What I saw was a lack of holistic care and too much emphasis on medications. People where I grew up live in food deserts with little access to healthy food. There are also almost no Black men in health care. I saw a nursing as a place where I could help make a change.”
Anthony’s career choice was confirmed while he was working in a step-down unit at Baptist Memorial. One of the patients was a Black woman about his mother’s age. She had a neurodegenerative disease and was in decline with significant pain. The doctors wanted her to take pain medication, but she was resistant.
“I knew that she, like a lot of older Black people, was fearful of medications and of getting addicted to them,” Anthony says. “I was able to talk with her and share my life and family experiences with her. Ultimately, I was able to assure her that the medication was the best thing for her and would ease her pain. It felt so good to be able to put her at ease make her more comfortable.”
On the Baptist campus, Anthony is involved in many organizations. He serves as vice president of community service for the Student Government Association. He is also on the Baptist engagement team, helping students get involved in college life. And, he’s president of BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ).
When not on campus, Anthony works at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare to help pay for school and occasionally to help his mother and his 14-year-old sister.
“I am focused on graduating with my nursing degree, but I want to go back and get my master’s and hopefully doctorate – I really want to go for the highest I can go,” Anthony says. “But school is expensive and adulting is hard. The Power of We Scholarship not only helps pay for school, but it is also a source of encouragement for me to continue working toward my goals.”
Senior, Biomedical Engineering
University of Memphis
“My goal is to become an OB-GYN,” Farraday says. “I want to treat patients of different backgrounds, ethnicities, races and religions and treat them equally and with equity.”
Farraday knows what she’s getting into. She comes from a large medical family with eight children. Her father and one of her brothers are doctors. Another brother is involved with genomics and coding. And a sister is a biomedical engineer who helps create devices used in surgery.
“My siblings really motivate me – they’re pretty competitive but also good examples,” she recalls. “Growing up, I got to work in my dad’s family practice, and I saw how he treated patients holistically and catered to their needs. He really cared about what they were relaying to him. As a minority, I understand how important it is to examine outside factors that may affect patients’ health. Food insecurity might be an issue, or living in an area plagued with gang violence. Black women are 2-3 times more likely to die from childbirth than white women. I want to help reduce that health disparity.”
Farraday is also active on her campus. She serves as president of the National Society of Black Engineers and vice president of the National Panhellenic Council. Previously, she was elected senator of the Herff College of Engineering for the Student Government Association. Off campus, she recently completed an internship studying Alzheimer’s disease at the University of Tennessee (UT) Health Science Center.
“The internship at UT was amazing,” Farraday says. “I was part of a research project and was counting neurons within the brain tissue of mice to find out if they are lost or merely damaged with the disease. It’s an area near and dear to my heart because my late grandmother had Alzheimer’s.”
“Entering my senior year, I’m very grateful for the Power of We Scholarship because it will help me get through school,” she says. “My father’s practice was destroyed by a tornado in March 2023, which has reduced any financial help I could get from my parents. The scholarship will ease my financial burdens and stress, allowing me to focus on school and dedicate my time to pursuing what it takes to become an OB-GYN.
Tennessee State University
“I hope to make a difference by increasing the diversity in health care,” Zakiya says. “In my clinical rotations, I’ve seen a lot more diversity in the patients than the providers. I think we need more people of color so we’re as diverse as the patient population we are serving.”
“It makes a difference when the person caring for you looks like you,” she says. “And it’s not just that. Having more diversity can facilitate more culturally competent care. A provider with a patient who doesn’t speak English might assume if the patient doesn’t say anything, that they’re not in pain. Misunderstandings can also happen when patients don’t eat certain foods or only eat at a certain time or have different religions.”
In nursing school, Zakiya learned about the importance of patient-centered care and quality care and has been able to apply what she’s learned in a variety of hospitals and in different clinical areas, including the ER, cardiac, psychiatric and med-surg.
Zakiya leads her nursing cohort, serving as the liaison between her class and the professors. Outside of school, she volunteers at the American Muslim Cultural Center (AMAC). She’s currently working at Centennial Medical Center.
The Nashville native has six siblings. Her parents immigrated from Somalia before Zakiya was born. After graduation in the spring, Zakiya hopes to work at the children’s hospital. She’s leaning towards the ER.
“I get satisfaction from being able to help someone when they’re at their lowest and sickest,” she says. “My overall dream is to become a registered nurse and hopefully later a nurse practitioner and make a positive impact in patients’ lives.”
Zakiya works during the year to pay for tuition, textbooks and nursing supplies like scrubs.
“The Power of We Scholarship will allow me to fully dedicate myself to my studies and not worry about working side jobs as much,” she says. “After all, nursing school is a full-time job.”