How do you say “good-bye” to a daughter, a sister, a tireless co-worker and friend who lost her battle with cancer?
For the friends and family of Kaitlin Morelli ’09 SON, the answer is: you don’t.
Instead, you find a way to pay tribute to the boundless laughter, the courage and integrity, the wit, the sense of adventure and selfless compassion. The Kaitlin E. Morelli Endowed Scholarship in Nursing, established in 2017 by Kaitlin’s parents and brother, supports the aspirations of future nurses.
“We hope this scholarship will help other students realize their dream of becoming a nurse. We believe Kaitlin’s spirit will live on every time a nursing school graduate goes out into the world and shares their gifts and the skills they acquired in the nursing program.” (Statement Of Establishment, Kaitlin E. Morelli Endowed Scholarship in Nursing)
Kaitlin Morelli was known for her joy and love of life, her work ethic, her service, generosity and kindness. She was also described as strong and stubborn — helpful tools for life, as well as a career in nursing. Undeterred by early learning difficulties, Kaitlin refused to give up her dream of becoming a nurse; her acceptance to UNCG’s School of Nursing realized the first part of her vision. Kaitlin made the Chancellor’s List every semester until her 2009 graduation, and subsequent employment at Forsyth Memorial Hospital and later as the charge nurse in the IMC Unit at Baptist Hospital were fulfilling achievements. Kaitlin’s childhood dream of being a nurse — inspired by her maternal grandfather’s experiences as a battlefield medic — had come true. Even after her cancer diagnosis in 2014, Kaitlin made plans to continue her vocation.
The Morelli family’s ties to North Carolina and the Triad run deep. Kaitlin’s brother, Troy Joseph Morelli ‘15, is the master electrician for Triad Stage in Greensboro, implementing his BFA in drama-technical production. Kaitlin’s father, David Dominic Morelli, graduated from Guilford College and is the UNC Director of Football Business Operations. Her mother, Nana Eve Morelli, graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and is the office manager for Chapel in the Pines Presbyterian Church. At the age of 27, Kaitlin returned to the Chapel Hill home in which she grew up for her final days.
The Kaitlin E. Morelli Endowed Scholarship in Nursing honors a life filled with meaningful accomplishment, love and an awareness of the value of living. For those who share her vision, Kaitlin’s scholarship lights the way to achieving dreams at UNCG.
SoN Becomes Favorite Cause for the Fosters
Kathy and Wayne Foster didn’t set out to be philanthropists. But these days, the couple is helping make college affordable for new generations of students at the School of Nursing — and hoping to inspire new donors to follow in their footsteps.
Kathy BSN ’84, MSN ’92 and Wayne PhD ’01 discovered a passion for philanthropy early in their careers. In the 1990s, while still in their 30s, they established a scholarship fund for college-bound seniors at Page High School in Greensboro.
As Kathy became more involved with the School of Nursing’s Alumni Association, they started thinking about investing more substantially in the institution that had launched her career.
Wayne, meanwhile, deep into a career in speech-language pathology and audiology, was thinking about expanding his professional horizons. He enrolled in a doctoral program in child development at UNCG — and then received a stunning and happy surprise.
“We’d been saving money for me to go back to school,” he says, “and then I was really fortunate to receive a fellowship that paid for almost my entire doctoral program. I was so thankful to the university for that support. And I thought, “I can’t just not give back!”‘
So fifteen years ago, the couple created the Wayne A. and Kathryn S. Foster Scholarship to support SoN undergraduates with financial need. The scholarship recipients are often transitioning into a new career in nursing or earning the degree while raising a family. The Fosters enjoy meeting them each year at a luncheon and frequently mentor them as well.
But the Fosters’ commitment to UNCG doesn’t stop there. They served as well on the steering committee of the SoN’s Students First capital campaign and recently completed a three-year term on UNCG’s Board of Visitors. They have also designated a planned gift for the School of Nursing.
“The way Wayne and I are involved, making these contributions together, has been a very rewarding experience,” Kathy says.
For the Fosters, service to the university remains a top priority even as their careers have evolved. Kathy was recently promoted to director of the Family Medicine Center at Moses Cone H. Memorial Hospital in Greensboro, and Wayne works for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, where he directs a multi-million dollar grant project focused on transforming 16 high-needs schools.
“This is our university,” Wayne says. “It gave to us, now we’re giving back and that makes us part of the community. If you’re at the stage of your life where you’re ready to start giving back, this is a great opportunity.”
Jackie and Walter Wolfe Invest in SoN Sim Lab
As a young nurse working in the cardio-thoracic acute care unit at Duke University Medical Center, Jackie McKoy Wolfe BSN ’71 sometimes encountered situations she hadn’t had the chance to rehearse during her training. “It could be a heart attack or an embolism or back pain pointing to something more serious. When you haven’t had prior experience with a challenge like that, because the problem simply never presented itself during your training, it puts you at risk for not doing the right things,” she says.
Because of a major gift from Jackie and her husband Dr. Walter Wolfe, a longtime surgeon at Duke’s School of Medicine, a new generation of School of Nursing students will get to practice handling unexpected challenges before they happen in real life.
The Wolfes have made a substantial contribution in support of S.C.E.N.E. – the Simulation Center for Experiential Nursing Education – a sophisticated sim lab on the fourth floor of the Moore Building. The lab will feature an apartment for home health simulation and a cutting-edge anatomy visualization system called an Anatomage Table. An iPad-like machine that displays the human anatomy in real-life size, the Anatomage Table is being used by many of the world’s leading medical schools and will offer SoN students a 3D experience for practicing patient care.
Walt, a professor of surgery at Duke, made the gift in honor of Jackie and her “tremendous commitment to nursing and education,” he says. “Well trained and experienced nurses play an absolutely critical role in patient recovery, and it’s a profession I’ve always admired greatly.”
At Duke, Walt says, Jackie was “a skilled intensive care nurse, a sensitive and caring cardio-thoracic nurse clinician and a respected head nurse of the cardio-thoracic intensive care unit. We make this gift to the School of Nursing in appreciation of the guidance and education she received as a student there.”
It’s the kind of technology that Jackie says she wishes had been available during her student days.
“The sim lab will provide students an opportunity to encounter common situations in patient care that they may not have been exposed to in hospital clinical settings,” she says. “In the lab, mistakes can be made and then corrected. Far better that this occurs in the sim lab than in an actual patient setting.”
Jackie fondly recalls the powerful influence and example of School of Nursing Dean Eloise Lewis, who expected students not only to be first-rate nurses but also leaders in their field.
“She was an excellent mentor who also helped find resources for me when I was afraid I might not have enough money to continue with school,” Jackie says. “I’ve never forgotten that.”
Years later and now the parents of five grown children, the Hillsborough residents are eager to help ensure a world-class education for today’s students.
“It’s a great school,” Jackie says. “They made an investment in me that got me far along in my career. Now we want to make an investment in them.”
UNCG Trustee and Alumn Susan Safran Invests in Veterans Access Program
During the UNCG Board of Trustees meeting in September, Dr. Susan Letvak made a presentation about the School of Nursing’s innovative Veterans Access Program (VAP), which offers military veterans academic credits for prior medical experience.
By the time Letvak was done, Board of Trustees then Chair Susan Safran, BSN ’77, was more than impressed. She wanted to help immediately.
Safran’s mother and stepfather had both recently died, leaving Safran an inheritance of $250,000. Safran wanted to invest it in UNCG, but she wasn’t quite sure how — until Letvak started speaking.
“It was like a lightbulb went off when Susan gave that talk,” Safran says. “I knew this was exactly what we needed to do.”
Safran quickly worked with the SoN’s Development office to establish the Willard E. Peterson Endowed Program Fund in honor of her stepfather, a U.S. Navy veteran who saw combat in the North Atlantic in World War II. He later succeeded as an entrepreneur in the construction and restaurant industries.
“I wanted to honor him and my mother, Bettie Jo Peterson, with this fund,” Safran says. “They were both extraordinary people with special regard for veterans, and they would be thrilled to assist them in this way.”
The funds will help students in the VAP cover a variety of costs ranging from uniforms, equipment and technology to educational experiences, counseling and academic fees.
“This is a very exciting and creative program, and it’s a privilege to use these funds to provide extra support to veterans who will bring tremendous talent and skill to the nursing profession,” Safran says.
Safran was a longtime nurse herself, having come to the field unexpectedly. As a senior at Wake Forest University majoring in business, she realized she wanted to make a change. “The man who was to become my husband (prominent Raleigh attorney Perry Safran) said, ‘I think you would be a great nurse. I understand there’s a really good program at UNCG.'”
After an academic experience she describes as stellar, Safran worked as a critical care nurse and in clinical education and staff development at WakeMed in Raleigh. She earned her MSN at Duke and then followed in her stepfather’s entrepreneurial footsteps, founding CPR Consultants, Inc. which provides CPR training and other services for health providers and businesses.
While raising three boys, she ran the company for two decades before selling it seven years ago. Establishing the endowed fund brings Safran full circle, helping launch careers at the institution that prepared her for lifelong success.
“I was fortunate to have the chance to learn from Dean Eloise Lewis and many other great professors, and that led to a great career,” she says. “We’re delighted to provide that same opportunity for a new generation of nurses.”