SMU Receives Nursing Scholarship Funds for Fifth Consecutive Year

Samuel Merritt University (SMU) was awarded a $100,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation to provide scholarship funds for underrepresented and economically disadvantaged students in the University’s accelerated nursing programs.

The award will fund 10 scholarships of $10,000 each for the 2013-2014 academic year, supporting SMU’s continued efforts to reduce financial barriers to enrollment and further diversify the nursing program.  It is the fifth year in a row that SMU has received a grant from the New Careers in Nursing Scholarship Program (NCIN), an initiative of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

“Diversifying the healthcare workforce is a top priority for Samuel Merritt University and we recognize our responsibility for graduating nurses who are reflective of the communities we serve,” said Aara Amidi-Nouri, PhD,  the director of diversity for the SMU School of Nursing. “These scholarships make a huge difference in our students’ ability to attend school.”

The new NCIN award will enable SMU to provide five scholarships to its Entry-Level Masters of Science in Nursing  (ELMSN) program and five scholarships to its Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

Since 2009, SMU has been awarded $550,000 in NCIN scholarship funds. Previous awards have helped make the ABSN program increasingly more diverse and it is now the one of the most diverse programs at the University, second only to the traditional BSN program. 

As the only 12-month ABSN program in the Bay Area, SMU graduates nearly 300 ABSN students annually. The program was established at the Oakland campus in 2005.  In 2006, the University admitted its first cohort of ABSN students at the San Francisco Learning Center, and a year later admitted ABSN students to the San Mateo Learning Center and the Sacramento Regional Learning Center.

In the grant proposal to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Amidi-Nouri wrote that one of the barriers in meeting SMU’s goal of diversifying the student body is a lack of financial resources for prospective students.

Because many students in the accelerated program cease employment because of the compressed curriculum, scholarship funds help alleviate the financial burden of meeting tuition and cost-of-living expenses.

To date, SMU has awarded 45 NCIN scholarships and the new grant will enable the University to award 10 more scholarships to newly admitted students beginning this fall. The NCIN scholars represent a very diverse group, including men and ethnically underrepresented students.

Thanks to the NCIN funding, SMU has developed a robust pre-entry immersion program, an alumni nurse mentor program and a comprehensive recruitment program targeted to prospective underrepresented students.

Accelerated baccalaureate and master’s nursing programs target students who have baccalaureate degrees in other disciplines and wish to transition into nursing. Preparing nurses at an advanced level is considered crucial to addressing the nation’s nursing shortage.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation focuses on the pressing health and health care issues facing our country. As the nation's largest philanthropy devoted exclusively to health and healthcare, the Foundation works with a diverse group of organizations and individuals to identify solutions and achieve comprehensive, measurable and timely change. For 40 years the Foundation has brought experience, commitment and a rigorous, balanced approach to the problems that affect the health and health care of those it serves.  For more information, visit

For more information, contact the SMU Office of the President at 510.869.1528 or

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