Monday, August 31, 2015 05:00 AM


When Chattanooga high school football player Peyton Cook took a helmet hit to his leg, it moved his kneecap from the front to the side. While undergoing extended treatments for the injury, Cook became fascinated with the process and decided he wanted to become a physical therapist.

Thanks to Tennessee Promise and Cook's volunteer mentor, Amy Hicks, Cook will be working toward making his dream a reality at Chattanooga State Community College this fall. In fact, Hicks worked with a number of Cook's classmates looking to start their college careers.

"Having a small group to talk to has been helpful," Cook said. "[Amy] has been like a mother to us. She knows a lot more about college life than we do."

Tennessee Promise, a program championed by Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, offers two years of tuition-free community or technical college to Tennessee high school graduates beginning with the Class of 2015. Volunteer mentors are crucial to the success of the program, and the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee workforce proved fertile ground for that role. Almost 100 employees statewide are participating.

Hicks said she was encouraged as a young person to pursue higher education and wanted to help others in the same way.

"My dad was ...

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See also: Trauger