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Meet the 2023 Power of We Scholars: Emmanuella, Destini and Kendrick

Key Takeaways

  • The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation has awarded $10,000 scholarships to 6 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.”

Read about the other 2023 BlueCross Power of We scholars here.

We spoke to the 2023 BlueCross Power of We Scholars about their goals and how the scholarship will help them. Here are stories from three recipients attending the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC):

Emmanuella Ingabire

Senior, Nursing
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 

Emmanuella Ingabire acquired in-depth hospital experience at a very young age. She was born with a congenital heart disease called VSD (ventricular septal defect), commonly referred to as a “hole in the heart.”

Her family lived in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where the life-saving surgery she needed wasn’t available. So, when she was eight months old, she and her mother immigrated to the U.S. for surgery at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Her father and two older sisters were able to join them two years later.

“I have no major health complications now and just have to see a cardiologist for regular check-ups,” Emmanuella says. “I was so young that I don’t have clear memories of having any problems. It was a lot harder on my family than it was on me. Like many immigrants, we had to start over completely when we arrived. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, my father had a bachelor’s degree in accounting, but it was not recognized here, so he went back to school. He now works as a senior accountant for a health care company. My mother got her degree here in health care administration and planning. She is now studying to be a surgical technician.”

Emmanuella’s family lived in Huntsville, Ala. for 8 years before moving to Nashville. At UTC, she is a member of the Go Global Club, which welcomes and shares housing with international students. When she’s not in school, she works as a nurse extern at a local Hospital Corporation of America (HCA) hospital.

“I like to be an open ear for patients and make that human connection,” Emmanuella says. 

“If I can make that emotional connection with them, it lifts their spirits and allows them to not remain focused on their physical state. They are always so appreciative of the smallest acts of kindness. I find that inspiring.”

After nursing school, Emmanuella plans to work for a year or two before entering graduate school.

“I don’t know exactly what my path will be in terms of graduate degree or specialty,” she says. “I do know that I want to be the resource for those with limited resources, the voice for the voiceless and represent communities that are marginalized and often overlooked. Being awarded the Power of We Scholarship allows me to have a laser focus on academics for the remaining semesters of nursing school and become the best nurse that I can be.”

Destini Givens

Senior, Psychology
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

“I want to pursue a career in mental health because of my personal experience with it,” Destini says. “I was in a house fire as a child, which led to me developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). I saw several counselors, but never felt understood or completely seen. In mental health, having someone who can relate to you can literally save lives. That’s why it is important to have minorities in the field.”

A native of Danville, Ill., Destini moved to Chattanooga when she was 13 years old. She attended Ooltewah High School and received her associate’s degree from Chattanooga State through the Tennessee Promise Program. Now at UTC, Destini is on the dean’s list and has been accepted into the psychology honor society.

“So many people are suffering from mental health issues but don’t have access to care,” Destini says. “People we see every day, in the grocery store or wherever we go, are struggling. Society doesn’t see mental health as important as physical health. If someone has a broken leg, they are taken to the hospital, but if someone’s walking around with a severe mental health disorder, we don’t do the same. I want to push for accessibility, for representation and overall care for everyone.”

Destini plans to earn her bachelor’s in psychology, then pursue a master’s in mental health , with the ultimate goal of becoming a clinical mental health counselor.

“Because I work full time, I feel like I am moving slower than some of my peers,” Destini says. “The Power of We Scholarship will help pay for my schooling so I can move closer to achieving my goals.”

And she’s already thinking of ways she’ll use her education to make a difference.

“I want to be a resource for communities that don’t have access to mental health resources,” she continues. “As a counselor, I want to sit across from a young girl just like I was and see and hear her for who she is. Many people run into roadblocks in getting care, whether it’s being a minority, being underprivileged, not having access. I want to clear the path and remove those roadblocks for people.”

Kendrick Cox

Senior, Nursing
University of Tennessee at Chattanooga 

Kendrick Cox has spent a lot of time in hospitals, but it hasn’t been for work or education.

“My grandmother died of heart failure, and my dad has several conditions, including stage 2 kidney disease and heart failure,” Kendrick says. “When Covid-19 hit, all of us got it, but my dad had a severe case. He was in the hospital for months. He was unable to work for almost a year. Through those experiences, I found my calling to be a nurse. I was inspired by the compassion and care the nursing staff brought to their patients and their families. Hospitals aren’t fun places to be, but nurses can make someone’s day.”

Kendrick is working part time at CHI Memorial in Chattanooga as a nurse tech on the urology floor. He also works at an area restaurant.

“I’ve been at the restaurant for 5 years, so the people there have become family to me,” Kendrick says. “But I love working in the hospital. It’s about helping people in need. It can get rough when there are limits to how much you can help. At those times, I just tell myself, ‘This is someone’s grandpa, brother or mom.’ That helps me deliver the best possible care.”

While attending UTC, Kendrick lives at home in nearby Cleveland to save money. He is a first-generation college student. 

“My father got his GED but never attended college,” he says. “He is a selfless man who took it upon himself to raise my sister and me alone. He has worked so hard to create a better life for us. When I found out about the Power of We Scholarship, I woke him up, we hugged and just had a moment.”

For Kendrick, the scholarship will help relieve some of the financial burden of school.

“Nursing school is expensive, with many books, fees and lab differentials. The nursing program is also very rigorous, so I haven’t been able to work as much as I have in the past. The Power of We Scholarship will reduce the financial stress and allow me to focus on pursuing my nursing degree.”

Read about the other 2023 BlueCross Power of We scholars here.

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