Pioneering College of Medicine Alumnus Creates Diversity Scholarship to Regift to Future Generations


Dr. Watson and his wife, Nanine, hope their gift will create a pathway for future physicians and scientists to achieve their dreams.

Trailblazing Dr. Carl Watson, the first African American graduate of the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and wife, Nanine, explain the driving force behind their gift: To create a diverse medical field.

So many things in life inspire philanthropy. For Dr. Watson ’64 and his wife, Nanine, it is the recognition that they have stood on the shoulders of giants and benefited from their gifts.

Nearly 60 years since his graduation from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine, Dr. Watson speaks fondly of the mentors—giants—to whom he attributes two of his most cherished gifts: An affordable education and a conviction in the importance of diversity in the medical field.

Believing “to whom much is given, much is expected,” Dr. and Mrs. Watson are giving back, or “regifting” these cherished gifts through the Dr. & Mrs. Carl and Nanine Watson Diversity Scholarship in the College of Medicine.

The Gift of Affordability

Dr. Watson’s 1964 graduation from the College of Medicine was a meaningful day of firsts. He was a member of the first graduating class, the college’s first African American graduate, and the first doctor in his family. Dr. Watson’s graduation is also noteworthy for what it was not the first day of—debt repayment.

Dr. Watson graduated from medical school debt-free, a feat he attributes, in part, to mentors who connected him to scholarships and fellowship opportunities, including the Sloan Foundation Fellowship. Unfortunately, in the decades since his graduation, debt persists as a significant concern for medical students. Medical schools and individuals, like the Watsons, are working to change this reality by creating scholarship opportunities.

“Scholarship opportunities were crucial to my success,” said Dr. Watson. “They gave me so much more freedom to focus on becoming a physician. Continuing with that same principle in mind will give future students a chance to thrive.”

The Gift of Conviction

Following his graduation, Dr. Watson completed his residency and internship in gynecology and obstetrics under Dr. John Greene, UK College of Medicine’s first gynecology and obstetrics chair. Dr. Watson remembers Dr. Greene as a kind man and excellent physician who understood the importance of African Americans in the medical field.

The conviction that animated Dr. Greene’s work still rings as a clarion call for Dr. and Mrs. Watson and the University of Kentucky.

Regifting’ What They Received

Dr. Watson practiced in Oakland, California, as an OB-GYN. Throughout his career, Dr. Watson’s work was illustrative of the high quality of medical care patients can expect from College of Medicine graduates.

Now a retired OB-GYN, Dr. Watson and his wife believe that it is the time for them to give back. “We hope we can help others by regifting. We’re in the winter of our years, knowing that this is a time we can give something. We have benefited from the gifts of others and know that this is a time we can give something back.”

Giving to their conviction, the couple has decided to include the University of Kentucky in their estate plan and endow the Dr. & Mrs. Carl and Nanine Watson Diversity Scholarship in the College of Medicine.

The Watsons’ scholarship pays forward the gifts of affordability and conviction they received years ago. The couple hopes their gift will break down barriers to the creation of a richly diverse medical field.

Believing in Their Future

Dr. and Mrs. Watson feel it is crucial to “regift” to students the support they received nearly 60 years ago. To accomplish their gift, the Watsons worked with the qualified team of philanthropy professionals at the University of Kentucky.

You can give to your convictions, too. Creating a future gift shows upcoming students that you believe in their abilities. Consider contributing to the Watsons’ scholarship or making your own gift that benefits the college or unit of your choice. To learn more about how you can transform your passions into philanthropy, contact Gift and Estate Planning at (859) 257-7886 or