Sheila and Dan Saklad Help the Next Generation of Nurses 

Sheila Saklad’s life was shaped by a passion for nursing — a passion that continues to touch the lives of others. 

Sheila’s grandmother was a nurse. Sheila’s mother was a nurse. So it came as little surprise when Sheila chose nursing as her career path. She and her husband, Dan, championed for nurses and healthcare over the course of their 54-year marriage. When Sheila passed away in August 2020 from complications of multiple myeloma, Dan knew what his wife would have wanted. Through the Dan and Sheila Saklad Foundation, he committed to giving $400,000 over two years to New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation and Cape Fear Community College Foundation to enhance the education of a new generation of nurses. 

The gift for the Novant Health Upward Mobility RN Scholarship Program, named in memory of Sheila, will provide scholarships for Novant Health New Hanover Regional Medical Center team members who want to attend Cape Fear Community College to become a registered nurse. “Certified nursing assistants, nurse technicians, and medical nursing assistants who are eligible for upward mobility scholarships can advance to a nursing degree in record time. That will ‘lift all boats’ for the medical profession and be most valuable for those in economic need,” Dan said. “Were Sheila still alive, she would advise these students to work diligently, seize the opportunities the Saklad fellowship provides, and be extremely proud of being a nurse, an extremely noble profession.” The Saklads’ long history of generosity includes an oncology education endowment at the New Hanover Regional Medical Center Zimmer Cancer Center, established in 2012. “No words can express our feelings of appreciation and gratitude,” said Schorr Davis, executive director of New Hanover Regional Medical Center Foundation. 

Through the Upward Mobility RN Scholarship, team members receive up to two years of full tuition coverage for their licensing program, a flexible reduced work schedule with pay and benefits in order to dedicate time to their studies and monthly meetings with a nurse mentor and career coach. “This heartfelt and gracious gift will allow individuals the opportunity to make their dreams a reality,” said Amy Akers, chief nurse executive for New Hanover Regional Medical Center. “Entering the nursing profession will provide them a way to give back to their community.” Scholarship recipient Marci Caceres, who emigrated from Guatemala as a child, dreamed of becoming a nurse — but wasn’t sure it was possible. 

She received a scholarship from Novant Health that helped pay for her nursing school and gave her the final boost she needed to become a registered nurse. “I am so blessed,” said Caceres. “That scholarship puts everything in place. Without it, this would have been very difficult.” The Saklads’ generous gift to the Novant Health Foundation will bring the scholarship’s same benefits to team members at the coast, Davis said. “Dan and Sheila’s passion for education will impact generations to come.”