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As any medical student will know, the people in our lives who are in "our corner" cheering us on as we make our way through school are often the unsung heroes of the medical school process. Like my own family, Bryan and Samantha Kirby help me stay grounded and remember that there are important things in life outside of my textbooks and learning reports for school.

The Unsung Heroes of the Medical School Process

As a one of the forty members of the inaugural class at the AU/UGA Medical Partnership, my first week of medical school in August 2010 is a blur. After years of dreaming about medical school and several months of making more solid preparations, the time to start was suddenly upon me. During that first week, I moved into a new apartment with a new roommate in Athens, met my 39 classmates, rode a bus down to Augusta to get fitted for my white coat, struggled with computer software updates, became CPR certified and in the midst of all this, when I least expected it, I received a letter in the mail from the MCG Financial Aid office.

My letter congratulated me and explained that I had been chosen as the recipient of the Asa and Eli Kirby Scholarship, a scholarship that would be part of the new White Coat Scholarship Initiative that had been established as a joint effort between AU and UGA to raise scholarship funds for Georgia medical students. My first reaction was of joy and relief – for a medical student taking out loans to pay for school, loans to pay for books, and loans to pay for living expenses, the weight of debt becomes a heavy burden. Every single dollar of financial aid is appreciated beyond words.

As the first week of school drew to a close, I learned that I would have the opportunity to meet the family that gifted my scholarship at the Interim Medical Partnership building dedication ceremony. Amid the bustle of the ceremony, I met with Dr. Bryan and Samantha Kirby, a young and beautiful couple, both decked out in their proud UGA red and black. Both UGA graduates, Bryan attended the Medical College of Georgia on his path toward becoming an anesthesiologist. After the tragic loss of their two young sons, the Kirby’s friends and family helped endow the scholarship in their names in order to help cherish their memories. From the moment I met them, Bryan and Samantha welcomed me into their family – they began to include me in their nightly prayers and asked if they could stay in touch throughout school to hear how things were going.

Over the past two years, my life as a medical student has evolved, and although the day-to-day usually runs more smoothly than my first frantic week, it’s often easy to get completely wrapped up in school at the expense of other aspects of life. I’ve been blessed not only by my scholarship, but also by the family that came with it – Bryan and Samantha check in often to see how school is going, offering support and friendly advice. As any medical student will know, the people in our lives who are in “our corner” cheering us on as we make our way through school are often the unsung heroes of the medical school process. Like my own family, they help me stay grounded and remember that there are important things in life outside of my textbooks and learning reports for school.  When the Kirbys welcomed their new son, Crawford Joseph, into the world at Christmas time, I was honored to have been included in their family at such a special time of life.

Having now (nearly!) made it through the first two years of medical school, I look forward to the challenges of starting our first clinical rotations and am comforted by Bryan’s encouraging words that the clinical years are the best years of medical school. I also look forward to having slightly more exciting news from day-to-day medical school to report back to both of my families.

- written by Breana Berry, Medical Partnership Class of 2014, Georgetown University Hospital-D.C. resident in Pediatrics