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Samantha and Bryan Kirby with scholarship recipients Breana Berry and Tina Duong.

Why Gifts Matter: Samantha and Bryan Kirby

As a physician, I have been taught to rely upon the utility of previously discovered knowledge, and to yearn for the yet-undiscovered knowledge.  This has, of course, served me and my patients quite well over the years.  Countless tears have remained unshed, cries unheard, and fears relieved.  The University of Georgia and Augusta University have not only served as repositories of such knowledge, but as proliferators at the forefront of learning.  My wife and I saw this first-hand as we both received our undergraduate and graduate degrees from these universities.  Our future successes were therefore directly attributable to UGA and AU.  We knew we were a part of something great when we were students, and we also knew that one day we'd want to find the opportunity to support and magnify the universities in their respective missions to enable success for other students.  We even dreamed of a day when our own children could experience the student life and profit from it as we had.

But, as you likely expected, knowledge is insufficient to guide us through life unassisted.  Not only does it currently face unfathomable gaps in every field of study, but it only represents a part of who we are as humans and how we are attempting to understand our place in the cosmos.  We need something else in this life to be truly successful.  We know this by those times when tears are shed, cries are heard, and fears are realized.  It was in the face of such a tragedy that our opportunity arrived to reunite with our alma maters in a unique and unusual way.

After shockingly losing our sons Asa Walker and Elijah John Kirby a few months after their second birthday, our dreams and hopes for the future seemed erased.  Our intellectual preparation was somewhat helpful, but was plainly insufficient.  It was at this point that our family and friends stepped up with the one thing that never fails: love.  Knowing our affection for our alma maters, a scholarship was started in the names of Asa and Elijah to recapture that hope for a future that was thought to have been lost.  Though Asa and Elijah wouldn't be sitting in those hallowed halls, the very people who would have supported their efforts getting there had now turned their efforts towards someone unexpected, and did so out of love for our sons.  That love was a huge part of our healing.  Where knowledge had reached its limit, love persevered. 

So, we have been given the opportunity to explain why we support the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.  We support it because the individual institutions first supported us.  We support it because our times at the universities represent some of the best years we've experienced, and that's worth sharing.  We support it because its mission to the State of Georgia is worthy and our young Georgians have such great potential to meet those needs.  We support it because we love Athens as much as any place on earth.  We support it because of the school's leaders, who are as loving as they are intelligent and motivated.  But most of all, we support the AU/UGA Medical Partnership because we love our sons.  We love them so much, even still, and want to give to another young person the knowledge and love that they would have experienced had they been fortunate enough to have been able to attend themselves.  In fact, we have found few better ways to honor their significance in our own lives than to support the AU/UGA Medical Partnership.  It satisfies our desires to share knowledge and share love in a way that almost nothing else can.

Since the founding of the Asa and Elijah Kirby Memorial Fund, we have been pleased to meet and cheer for the well-deserved recipients.  Every night, they are prayed for as we bow our heads with Asa and Elijah's new brothers, Crawford and Solomon.  It's an honor to be a part of their young careers, part of the Medical Partnership, and part of such an uplifting body of people.  If a "university" is intended to find unity out of diversity or to bring one unified body out of many individuals, it will do so using knowledge and love in such a way as we have seen UGA and AU share them with us through fair and rainy days.  And if a partnership of two great universities can create something even greater, our family wants to be a part of that.

— Dr. Bryan Kirby, UGA '99, MCG '03