How Nursing Alum Carter Todd Turned One Scholarship into Many

By Talya Sanders, SMU News

It was finals week and Carter Todd, ABSN ’15, was taking a much-needed break from his late-night bartender job at Elephant Bar Restaurant in Sacramento’s Arden-Arcade neighborhood. He was relieved to be able to dedicate more time to studying and to get a good night’s rest before his exams. And, he was grateful for the generous scholarship that made it possible.

“I was blown away at the kindness of that scholarship which made the difference so I could finish the program,” says Carter. “It took the pressure off having to work so many night shifts to cover my expenses. It lightened my load and I graduated with less debt.”

Carter says he felt supported by Samuel Merritt University before the scholarship, actually, before he even applied for the Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program—the only one-year accelerated program of its kind in Northern California. For example, he attended SMU’s popular Nursing Success! Seminar the summer before applying and met faculty and counselors that helped him strengthen his application. Then there was the scholarship that helped with tuition and expenses while in school. And just before graduation, SMU helped place Carter at his dream preceptorship, the pivotal pre-graduation clinical placement for students, at Kaiser Roseville in the pediatric ICU.

“It was a coveted position and having that experience on my resume helped me get into the new grad residency program at UC Davis,” says Carter. “That prestigious program, in turn, helped me get my jobs since then.” After five years working bedside in pediatric ICUs, Carter became an assistant nurse manager at Kaiser Roseville.

“I think Samuel Merritt’s programs, especially in the Sacramento region, translate really well into the professional world, and that means a lot,” explains Carter. “It’s one thing to train us well, which they do, but it’s another thing to get us working in the competitive jobs we’re looking for.”

Sac Biz Times 40 Under 40

As a nurse, Carter was looking for ways to give back and, at the same time, increase the number of Black nurses, especially Black male nurses, with the goal of reducing health disparities and better reflecting the population as a whole. Just 10% of RNs are Black, which lags behind the 14% of the U.S. population, according to Minority Nurse and Pew Research Center.

In 2018, he founded the Capitol City Black Nurses Association (CCBNA), whose mission is to improve health outcomes in communities where health disparities persist and grow the number of Black nurses in the workforce. A cornerstone CCBNA initiative is inspired by Carter’s SMU scholarship. In just two years, CCBNA has provided nearly $10,000 to six Black nursing students, including BSN students and doctoral students doing high-level research related to the Black community. CCBNA’s goal is to double the scholarships given each year, and so far they’re on track. Carter’s dedication and success recently led to him being recognized as a 40 Under 40 in healthcare by the Sacramento Business Times.

“As nurses, it’s important to be lifelong learners and educators, and Samuel Merritt instilled that in me,” says Carter, who knows how hard it can be to work your way through school and scramble to pay tuition. Now the scholarship he earned is having a multiplying effect, as he enables more students each year to receive scholarships.

“My Samuel Merritt scholarship made all the difference in my nursing education. I want the CCBNA scholarship recipients to feel as supported as I did at Samuel Merritt,” he explains. “I hope they’ll know they are supported by a community of professionals who believe in them and their future. We understand who they are, where they want to go, and we stand in the space to help them get there.”

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