Meet the Detroit Woman Making Healthcare Education Accessible for People of Color

by Xara Aziz

Each week, Shine My Crown features and celebrates the work of Black women uplifting their communities. This week, meet Shawna Stewart, the founder of The Starter Kit, LLC. The Detroit native graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 2015 and has been a registered nurse for the last 7 years within the city of Detroit. She has worked as an emergency room nurse, working in the trauma and burn center unit for the past five years. Caring for people has been her calling since she was a child, and she enjoys her work with rigor and passion. When not at work, she spends her free time traveling, hanging with friends and trying new foods.

Walk us through the journey of what led you to launching The Starter Kit?

The Starter Kit birthed out of my own financial struggles as a college student. I attended a private university, and on top of tuition and books, there were pertinent items that I needed to purchase for nursing school. I was a full-time student and worked at a per diem job as student nurse at my local hospital. The pay was not enough to cover all of my financial needs of college.  Once I graduated, I knew I wanted to do something that would offset that financial burden for nursing students.

Who is your target market? Who specifically does your business cater to?

The Starter Kit is specifically geared toward nursing students and aspiring nursing students.  It would also be beneficial for certified nursing assistant students, and medical assistant students.

What specifically are included in the kits?

In The Starter Kit is everything a student nurse will need during his/her nursing journey. The items in The Starter Kit are quality and can be taken from a student nurse to a licensed nurse. It includes a stethoscope by Littmann, a BP Cuff by Prestige Medical, clipboards, shears, pens, light and so much more!

Why is it so important for women — specifically women of color to have access to your kits?

Though The Starter Kit is geared toward all nursing students, I believe that having resources such as this benefit Black women and students of color by leveling the playing field. We need more representation in nursing and medicine as a whole. I was 1 of 4 Black students that graduated from my university’s nursing program in 2015. A program within the city of Detroit. A city where in the 2020 census more than three quarters of the population is Black, identifying it as the Blackest city in America.

What are your future goals? Where do you see The Starter Kit in the next five years?

The Starter Kit will continue to grow and change as medicine changes. In the future, I would like to offer my resources in the form of scholarships and mentorship. I have friends that are nurses, that have gone on to be entrepreneurs, and could provide a different perspective of what a nurse is or could be. I would love to gather this group of men and women to provide mentoring to students.

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