• First ever mother, daughter pair complete UNF nursing school together

    By: Kaitlyn Chana


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - For the first time in University of North Florida history, a mother and daughter are about to graduate nursing school together.

    In the face of adversity, Heather Harmon and her daughter Peyton never gave up hope on their dreams.

    They are the first mother and daughter pair to be accepted and graduate from the competitive nursing program at UNF.

    For Heather, many didn’t believe she’d make it.

    She suffered from chronic pain for years.

    Doctors couldn’t figure out what was wrong and Heather was bedridden, leaving Peyton to care for her sister.

    Heather said when Peyton was 12 years old when she took over the mothering role of her sister and tended to her needs.

    Years later, doctors found that a vertebrae in Heather's spinal cord that connects to her neck was deteriorating, and it later shattered.

    “When I saw how much of an impact nurses made just in her (Heather) journey, and to turn around and do it ourselves, has just been awesome,” said Peyton.

    During her treatments, Heather found a love for medicine and got her high school diploma and applied for college. 

    “I definitely think it was God’s plan for us to be together,” said Heather.

    The duo said it was surreal that they both were accepted into the UNF nursing program.

    For the last two years, they went to each class together, studied for exams and spent countless hours in hospital clinical rotations. During their time at UNF, Peyton’s father passed away from terminal cancer but the pair didn’t give up.

    “Nursing school is hard, but it’s not as hard as what we went through,” said Peyton.

    School mentors such as Dr. Linda Connelly provided the women the strength to continue going after their goals.

    “She kinda caught us before we fell, and that was so instrumental in our success,” said Heather Harmon.

    As patients try to differentiate between the two, Peyton said she’s ready to graduate and devote her life to caring for others.

    “Honestly, I think it’s going to be a little sad. I really wanted my dad to be there. I think it will be really good too. We finally finished the journey,” said Peyton.

    The mom and daughter pair will graduate on August 5. Heather already has a position in the operating room at Memorial Hospital and Peyton is beginning the interviewing process at various local hospitals.

    Heather said her daughter gave her the strength to push through this emotional journey.

    “I just want to say she is my backbone. And she was there when I wasn’t able to stand up on my own,” said Heather Harmon.

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