From Shared Dreams to Nursing Scrubs

Mother and daughter inspire each other to become Duke caregivers

Breezy Morris and her mother, Melonie Castle. Photo by Stephen Schramm.

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Growing up in Virginia, Melonie was fascinated by the idea of caring for patients. She was inspired by the selfless nature of nurses. A nursing career was always a goal, but as Melonie became a mother and children became a priority, it never seemed attainable.

“Life just kept happening,” said Melonie, a clinical nurse in the Duke Regional Hospital Emergency Department since June.

In 2013, Melonie, then a single mother of four, began her career at Duke by joining the Duke Regional Hospital staff as an emergency department technician. She found the work of helping doctors and completing tasks, such as drawing blood and connecting patients to EKG monitors, immensely satisfying.

Melonie Castle, right, huge her daughter Breezy Morris at her nursing school graduation. Photo courtesy of Melonie Castle.

She became a certified nursing assistant not long after and served in Duke’s float pool. But with three children in school – ranging from elementary school to high school – she couldn’t pursue a nursing degree.

Meanwhile, her daughter Breezy saw the validation Melonie found in the challenging-but-worthwhile healthcare work. That led Breezy to pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing science from UNC Greensboro, which she earned in 2020.

“She was always my inspiration,” said Breezy, who’s in her third year as a pediatric nurse at Duke University Hospital. “She wasn’t a nurse, but she had been on that road for a long time. That shaped the path I wanted to go down.”

Breezy said her mother encouraged her while she was at UNC Greensboro. With experience working in a range of hospital settings, Melonie helped Breezy understand emergency department care and COVID protocols.

In 2021, the roles reversed, and Melonie began her quest for a nursing degree with Breezy providing support. Melonie earned her degree in two years, balancing responsibilities at Duke and at home.

And at May’s graduation ceremony, when Melonie’s daughter and fellow Duke nurse presented her with her pin, everything had fallen into place.

“She just looked so joyful,” Breezy said. “We’ve seen our mom go through a lot and sacrifice a lot. To see her truly happy was so rewarding.”

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