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Six Tennessee Students Chosen for $10,000 BlueCross Power of We Scholarships

BlueCross Foundation doubles number of awards for outstanding minority students pursuing health care careers

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — The BlueCross Foundation has doubled the number of BlueCross Power of We Scholarships it is awarding for 2020, bringing the total to six. Since 2012, the foundation has awarded the scholarship to outstanding minority students to address health disparities Tennessee minority groups face by increasing representation in the state’s health care workforce. Each winner will receive $10,000 toward school tuition.

This year’s additional scholarships are part of the company’s larger commitment to address systemic racism and injustice within Tennessee communities.

“The BlueCross Power of We Scholarship is one way we’ve been working toward health equity,” says Ron Harris, vice president of diversity and inclusion at BlueCross. “For many years, we’ve been supporting some of our state’s brightest students – who will lean on their unique insights as they deliver high-quality care for Tennesseans.”

This year’s recipients are:

Marcus Barksdale – Memphis

Senior, Nursing Major

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC)

Alanis Burton – Athens

Senior, Health Science Major

Lee University

Brianna James – Franklin

Junior, Exercise Science Major

University of Memphis

Sydni Lollar – Greeneville

Junior, Honors Biomedical Engineering Major

University of Tennessee Knoxville

Akia Thompson – Nashville

Senior, Public Health Major

Belmont University

Deja Walls – Collierville

Senior, Biology Major

Rhodes College

In lieu of the BlueCross Foundation’s annual event celebrating the winners, which was canceled due to COVID-19, each recipient received a gift package for this school year, including a MacBook, AirPods and a Fitbit.

The additional Power of We Scholarships build on several education programs supported by the BlueCross Foundation:

  • $1 million investment in the HCS EdConnect initiative in Hamilton County, which will provide no-cost internet access to underserved students on free and reduced lunch, ensuring they can participate in virtual learning opportunities this year
  • $500,000 to establish the BlueCross Technology Academies at Soddy Daisy and Red Bank High Schools
  • $500,000 grant over three years to STEP-UP Chattanooga to provide internships and job readiness training for students

About BlueCross®

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee is a taxpaying, not-for-profit health plan serving more than 3.5 million members in Tennessee and around the country. The Chattanooga-based company was founded in 1945 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary of bringing peace of mind to its members and local communities. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company’s news center at

About BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc.

The BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, Inc. was established in December 2003 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation organized to promote the philanthropic mission of BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee. The foundation provides funding for the BlueCross Healthy Place program, which creates active, healthy spaces across Tennessee.

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