The program at the Halloran Center began with remarks by Ron Harris, vice president of diversity and inclusion at BlueCross, and Jeremy Sanders, president of the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives.
“This is one of my favorite parts of my job — getting to meet BlueCross Diversity Scholars and help them achieve their dreams of helping others,” Harris said. “We at BlueCross are dedicated to our mission of providing peace of mind through better health. And helping bring outstanding new practitioners into the health-care system aligns with that perfectly.”
Next, BlueCross Chief Operations Officer Scott Pierce led a panel discussion with three respected health-industry leaders from the Memphis area:
· Renee Frazier, retired CEO of Common Table Health Alliance
· Manoj Jain, M.D., an infectious disease specialist, writer and educator
· Altha Stewart, M.D., associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and president-elect of the American Psychiatric Association
Over the course of a 30-minute conversation, the panelists addressed factors driving health disparities and discussed potential solutions.
Following the panel discussion, the program turned toward aspiring health-care professionals — including past scholarship winner Mario Lopez-Rodriguez, who now works as a pediatric nurse at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis.
BlueCross leaders officially awarded Fletcher, as well as Takiyah Best (University of Memphis) and Tanzie Nguyen (University of Tennessee), with $10,000 scholarships to continue their studies in health-care-related fields.
All three were selected because of their academic achievements and community service efforts.
The scholarship recipients also took the stage in a conversation led by Andrea D. Willis, M.D., BlueCross senior vice president and chief medical officer, before Roy Vaughn, senior vice president and executive director of the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, concluded the program.
“We’ve heard about some of the challenges that exist for members of the Memphis community. And it’s important to understand where we are today so we can work together toward a healthier future for everyone,” Vaughn said. “We’re proud to sponsor this scholarship program where we can help promising young people pursue their dreams and bring their unique, valuable perspectives to bear in meeting the health needs of Tennesseans.
“Congratulations to each of you, Takiyah, Tanzie and CheKenna. Your dedication, to not only your studies but also your communities, is very inspiring.”
About the diversity scholarships
Studies suggest African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians and other minority populations remain underrepresented as medical professionals relative to their numbers in the general population. Many of these same minority groups also display disparities in their health status compared to the rest of the population.
Now in its fifth year, the Diversity Scholar program at BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee aims to help build a health-care workforce that better mirrors the communities it serves. Since 2013, the BlueCross Health Foundation and Community Trust have invested $135,000 in the future of high-performing Tennessee college students pursuing a calling in health care or a related field.
This story is provided and presented byBlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee.