Clarice Phelps and Candace Halbert

By Vivian Shipe

KNOXVILLE, TN — March is International Women’s Month. Three of the most fascinating women that contribute greatly to the betterment of humanity live in Knoxville Tennessee. Very respected, brilliant and strong women of integrity, Sparks, Phelps and Halbert are wonderful role models.

Brittonya Sparks

Brittonya Sparks, nurse practitioner for over 25 years was recently recognized by the State of Tennessee for her work to help eliminate disparities in health. Sparks has been boots on the ground for the last two years, working to ensure as many as possible get vaccinated against COVIS-19. Sparks has been volunteering with the Faith Leaders Initiative and New Directions. She has a heart for the people and works to make sure every opportunity for the underserved is brought to the communities.

Phelps and Halbert are both Chemists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Phelps, a navy veteran, is a modern-day history maker. A nuclear scientist, Phelps is the first Black woman to help create ELEMENT 117, also known as Tennesseeine (Ts), that was added to the periodic table.  

Halbert, a researcher at the nuclear plant also recruits for the lab and is ensuring she teaches those coming behind her. Seven years ago, she created YO-STEM to bring science, technology, engineering and math to underserved Knoxville area youth. With over 1000 students served, Halbert is working to ensure more people of color are exposed to the math and sciences fields.