DAHLONEGA, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - A graduate at the University of North Georgia got a heartwarming surprise in addition to her diploma, a visit from her active-duty Army father.
Taylor Kirby didn't expect her dad, Army Col. Norman "Chip" Kirby Jr., to be able to see her graduate in-person. He's currently on active duty in the Middle East and had said he would be watching the ceremony online. Everyone else in the family expected him to be back for their son's graduation months away in the spring, but he was able to get a short leave to come back for this special moment in his daughter's life.
When she saw her father, Taylor burst into tears, walking straight to him for a big hug. She could barely speak for minutes after.
"I'm excited to graduate anyway," she said. "And then he gets to be here."
Chip Kirby, who also graduated from the University of North Georgia and was a member of the school's Corps of Cadets, said it was "the best experience of my life."
The only one who knew was Taylor's mom Jan Kirby, who is also an alumnus of the school.
"This is great," Jan said. "I really appreciate all the help he received getting here."
Taylor was one of more than 600 students who graduated at UNG's fall commencement ceremonies Saturday.