Deja Walls, a senior biology major at Rhodes College, has been selected as a recipient of the BlueCross Power of We Scholarship. The $10,000 award, funded by the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Foundation, is given to selected “outstanding minority students pursuing careers in health care.”
“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.”
Walls became interested in pursuing a career as a physician assistant after shadowing medical professionals at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital in 2019.
“I love the amount of time physician assistants have directly caring for patients,” says Walls, who is from Collierville, TN. “I helped care for my grandmother, who recently passed away from pancreatic cancer, and I saw what a difference that direct, compassionate care can make.”
Walls adds that she is pursuing a religious studies minor to gain a better understanding of religions and cultures and to be able to communicate well with patients of diverse backgrounds. “I also have taken Spanish classes in high school and college and traveled abroad to multiple Spanish-speaking countries for missionary work.” In addition, Walls has shadowed Spanish translators at La Clínica Esperanza in Memphis.
Walls says that Dr. Terry Hill of the biology department has had a major impact on her college experience. “His classes have been by far the most challenging, and he has pushed me to new heights academically. His classes sparked my interest in majoring in biology and have deepened my appreciation for science as a whole.”
Walls has also conducted research in the Rhodes chemistry department on compounds found in wasp venom with antimicrobial properties. She acts as treasurer of the Tri-Beta biology honor society and is a founding member of the college’s chapter of the Minority Association of Premedical Students.