In 2013, BlueCross awarded its first Power of We scholarship to two students with plans to enter the field of health care. In addition to recognizing academic achievement, leadership and community service, the scholarships promote diversity among health care workers, where minorities are underrepresented.
Better Tennessee spoke to LaDarius Millen, one of the first scholarship recipients, about his education and career pursuits.
Better Tennessee: What has happened in your life since you received the scholarship?
Millen: I graduated from the University of Memphis with a degree in chemistry, and initially I planned to be a pharmacist — I always planned to get my doctorate.
But after working as a pharmacy technician and realizing I didn’t have a true passion for that, I changed routes to pursue a career in cancer research. Now I’m working to get my master’s degree in biomedical science with a concentration in laboratory research and management at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center.
I will graduate in December, and I hope to find a position where I can permanently do cancer research.
BT: Why cancer research?
Millen: Personally, I’ve been affected multiple times by cancer, losing loved ones, so it became a passion of mine to work in cancer research.
Right now, I’m interning at the UT Health Science Center as part of my program. I’m training in the techniques and methods of conducting research. I love being able to see results in progress and how far we have come in learning about cancer.
Personally, it’s fulfilling to know that you are doing work that can benefit humanity as a whole.
It gives me a passion to get up in the morning and really enjoy the work that I do.
BT: What is your advice to other scholarship applicants?
Millen: Don’t give up. A lot of times it seems that school is too hard or things are getting difficult, but eventually it pays off.
I know that for me, getting the scholarship was a big motivation to complete school, and even to go on to get my master’s.
I’ve been to the ceremonies when scholarship recipients are announced, and being able to talk to others pursuing health care careers has been a real eye-opener for me, to see where I can go with my career.
It opened a vision of the future for me, and I hope that I can do the same for new recipients.