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Bryson Hartsell Named 2022 Power of We Scholar

Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies Junior Awarded $10,000 scholarship from BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee

It’s often been said that things in life happen to us for a reason. What we do when those things happen can make all the difference in the world. For Bryson Hartsell, multiple injuries as a basketball player gave him the inspiration to help others and pursue a career in health care.

Bryson is a junior in therapeutic recreation in the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies (KRSS) at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Education, Health and Human Sciences (CEHHS). He’s also been named a 2022 Power of We Scholar by BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee (BCBST).

Photo of Bryson Hartsell wearing while lab coat and standing in front of Neyland Stadium on the University of Tennessee, Knoxville campus

Bryson Hartsell is the recipient of a 2022 Power of We Scholarship. The $10,000 award will help him pursue his dreams of working in occupational therapy

“I’ve had multiple injuries, mostly knee problems and plantar fasciitis that sidelined me from sports and had me spending a lot of time with physical therapists,” Bryson explains. “While I didn’t like being injured, I learned a lot about injuries and how to treat them. I started having talks with my therapists about the profession, the opportunities in it and what was involved to be a part of it. They were very helpful and supportive of my entering the field. Pursuing a career in occupational therapy will also allow me to achieve the two goals my parents set out for me: continually strive to be a better person and to help others.”

Since 2013, The BCBST Power of We Scholars program has awarded $10,000 scholarships to minority students pursing degrees in health care. Each recipient is chosen by the National Association of Health Services Executives Memphis Chapter. To date, We Scholars has awarded $345,000 to future health care providers.

“The Power of We Scholarship program is part of our overall effort to address health disparities minority groups face ,” says Ron Harris, vice president of corporate workforce diversity at BlueCross. “By helping increase minority representation in Tennessee’s health care workforce, we hope to improve health outcomes within our communities.”

For Bryson Hartsell, helping others is front and center in his life. He is already making an impact through his work at Knoxville’s Change Center, a youth center featuring a skate center, climbing wall, café, and arcade.

“I’ve been at the Change Center since it opened in 2018, and I’m now a manager,” Bryson says. “We’ve unfortunately seen an increase in gun violence in recent years in East Knoxville. The center is a safe place for kids to have some fun and get them off the streets. It is a positive, welcoming environment for everyone, no matter where you come from.”

At UT, Bryson is part of 100 Black Men, a mentoring organization focused helping youth reach their highest potential.

“My dad was a mentor in the organization, and I’ve been a mentee since I was in the seventh grade,” Bryson says. “It’s a great place where people can get access to knowledge and find role models to help them improve their lives. I hope to be the same kind of role model in health care. Growing up in East Knoxville, I’ve seen a lot of people who don’t have consistent access to reliable, quality care.”

For some, a sports injury may be the end of a dream. For Bryson Hartsell, his basketball injuries sparked a dream of helping others while making a positive impact on future generations.

“I want to care for the overlooked and underserved,” said Bryson. “I also want to be a role model for youth, showing them the power of giving back and that if they put in the work, they can achieve their dreams.”

Through its eight departments and 12 centers, the UT Knoxville College of Education, Health, and Human Sciences enhances the quality of life for all through research, outreach, and practice. Find out more at