Former Hamilton County Schools leader will support BlueCross/ETSU accelerated bachelor’s degree partnership
CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueSky Tennessee Institute has chosen Melissa Graham to serve as student success manager for its program, a workforce development venture with East Tennessee State University offering a bachelor’s degree in computing in just over two years.
Graham is a former middle and high school counselor and university student support expert who most recently served as coordinator of community schools for Hamilton County Schools. She brings more than a decade of successful student support and community engagement to this new role, with experience in team building and mentorship as well as outreach at both the secondary and college level.
“Our program will be challenging, and Melissa will take the lead on ensuring students thrive,” Brad Leon, executive director of the BlueSky Tennessee Institute, said. “With her guidance, we’ll help driven, talented students realize their dreams of a career in tech.”
Graham earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Education in School Counseling from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She serves as a United Way Volunteer Advocate, a member of the Girls Leadership Summit steering committee, and sits on the board of the nonprofit GirlStance.
BlueSky Tennessee Institute is designed to foster locally the advanced technology talent BlueCross needs to serve customers, communities, and business partners. And the need extends beyond BlueCross: state data shows there’s roughly a 4-to-1 disparity in terms of jobs from employers that require an IT background compared to Tennessee college and university graduates with those degrees.
Students will follow an accelerated version of ETSU’s renowned computing curriculum while gaining real-world experience with internships and technology mentorships. Then, qualified graduates can earn a job offer from BlueCross.
The program will welcome its first students to the BlueCross headquarters on Cameron Hill in summer 2022, and applications are open through Dec. 15, 2021. Learn more and access the application at etsu.edu/bluesky.
BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.4 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and has brought peace of mind to its members and local communities for more than 75 years. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s news center at bcbstnews.com.
About East Tennessee State University
East Tennessee State University was founded in 1911 with a singular mission to improve the quality of life for the people of the region. A century later, the mission is unchanged and ETSU has transformed into a nationally ranked university focused on academics, research and service. ETSU is situated “in the shadow of the mountains” in Johnson City, Tennessee, and offers more than 160 undergraduate and graduate programs.
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