CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. — BlueCross is seeking applicants for its 2014 Diversity Scholarships. Minority students majoring in the health care field are encouraged to apply by Feb. 28.

As health care reform brings increased access to insurance to populations never covered before, it also creates a greater need for a qualified, diverse workforce to deliver health care. To address this need, the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Community Trust, in collaboration with the Memphis chapter of the National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE), is offering three $5,000 college scholarships to Tennessee minority students pursuing careers in health care.

According to BlueCross’ research on health care reform and its impacts on minority populations in Tennessee, African-Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, Alaska Natives and Native Hawaiians as well as other Pacific Islanders remain underrepresented in medicine relative to their numbers in the U.S. population and populations in specific states, regions and localities.

Shannetra McCutcheon, a nursing major at ETSU, was awarded a 2013 scholarship. “Ever since I was little, I always knew I wanted to be in the health care field, but I wasn’t sure exactly what I wanted to do,” she said. “I job shadowed a nurse and fell in love with it.” She’s the first in her family to attend college, which is “a dream come true.” McCutcheon plans to graduate with a bachelor’s degree in nursing, work a few years, and then go to graduate school to earn a doctorate degree.

“These scholarships provide a much-needed resource for minority students like Shannetra to achieve continued academic success,” said Ron Harris, director of workforce diversity for BlueCross. “This financial assistance will not only help deserving students achieve their dreams but should also improve diversity in the health care field.”

The scholarships, which recognize outstanding achievements in academics, community service and leadership, are awarded to undergraduate students who wish to pursue careers in health care.

For more information, including FAQs and the application, go to http://www.bcbst.com/why-bcbst/about-us/corporate-responsibility/diversity/community-diversity.page. 2014 applications are due Feb. 28.

About BlueCross

BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee's mission is to provide its customers and communities with peace of mind through affordable solutions for health and healing, life and living. Founded in 1945, the Chattanooga-based company is focused on reinventing the health plan for its 3 million members in Tennessee and across the country. Through its integrated health management approach, BlueCross provides patient-centric products and services that drive health improvement and positively impact health care quality and value. BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Inc. is an independent licensee of the BlueCross BlueShield Association. For more information, visit the company's website at www.bcbst.com.