A University of North Georgia student's graduation day became extra memorable after a big surprise from her father who had been deployed.
Taylor Kirby was preparing for her school's Dec. 15 commencement ceremony when her father, Army Col. Norman "Chip" Kirby Jr., made a surprise visit on a short leave from active-duty military service in the Middle East.
The whole reunion was coordinated by Taylor's mother, Jan, who was the only one who knew of Chip's early return. Neither Taylor nor her family ever expected to see Chip, who promised he would be watching the ceremony online.
"I'm excited to graduate anyway," Taylor said. "And then he gets to be here."
Both of Taylor's parents are 1993 alumni of UNG, where Chip was a member of UNG's Corps of Cadets. He called the early commencement reunion "the best experience of my life."
As shocked family members smiled and ask questions about who knew what, Taylor stepped into her father's arms, letting loose tears of joy.
Jan said seeing the emotion on her daughter's face made the surprise worth it.
"This is great," Jan Kirby said. "I really appreciate all the help he received getting here."
Information furnished by the University of North Georgia.