Challenge hopes to pump up talent pipeline.

If Caleb Green claims a prize in the 2019 Historically Black Colleges and Universities Innovation Challenge, being held Thursday and Friday in Chattanooga, Tenn., it should come as a surprise to exactly no one.

The Claflin University honors college senior has a habit of reaching his goals.

The recipient of a Gates Millennium scholarship out of Metter (Ga.) High School in 2016, Green is planning to attend graduate school at the University of Michigan, where he completed an internship in health management and policy this summer that spurred his interest in a heath care administration career. The president of his fraternity and a campus business organization, as well as relief pitcher on the baseball team, Green intends to bring that same focus to the innovation competition.

The two-day event, an initiative of Columbia-based supplemental insurance company Colonial Life and Chattanooga-based parent company Unum Group, will feature eight four-person teams made up of juniors and seniors recruited from HBCUs within 250 miles of Unum office locations in Columbia, Chattanooga and Baton Rouge, La. The teams will solve real-world challenges facing the insurance industry while networking with company officials and learning about career opportunities.

"Now that I know the direction I want to go, I want to learn as much as I possibly can about each of the different aspects of it," said Green, a business administration major with a concentration in management. "I'll be able to be more informed. I'll have more experience and I'll be more aware about the fields, generally and holistically. That way, when it's time for me to become a chief operating officer myself, I'll be more knowledgeable and more skilled."

That kind of drive is precisely what the creators of the Innovation Challenge hoped to attract.

"We want to make sure that we have the best talent so that we can provide the best service to our customers in an efficient and innovative way," said Wade Hinton, vice president of inclusion and diversity at Colonial Life/Unum. "We know that for us, some of that great talent is right there in our backyard, and we want to make sure that we take advantage of it."

Taneia O'Bannon, a senior at Benedict College, decided to participate in the challenge after learning about the benefits that Colonial Life's supplement policies, such as disability and critical illness plans, provide to those in need.

"I want to reach out to others and help them find a health care...

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