Wake Forest graduates ready to take next step

WINSTON-SALEM – Wake Forest University held its spring commencement Monday, adding hundreds of job seekers ready to join the workforce.

Thousands of proud parents packed the Lawrence Joel Coliseum to watch their sons, daughters, friends and family walk across the stage.

The ceremony was especially moving for Amber Kirby, who joined more than 1,600 classmates for a graduation she almost missed.

Home on fall break last October, the 26-year-old and a friend were driving around Greenville one night when she reportedly pulled out in front of a tractor-trailer, landing her in the hospital for two weeks.

"I had a traumatic brain injury. I had a partially collapsed lung," Kirby said. "The doctors told me that I shouldn't go back to school in the fall and probably not for the spring semester."

Six months later, details of the night are still unclear, but she was sure about one thing – she wasn't going to let the crash stop her.

"It was tough, but Wake Forest is phenomenal," she said. "If I wasn't at Wake Forest, I don't know how this would have happened, if I would have graduated."

For two months, the university videotaped all of Kirby's classes so she wouldn't miss any material. Professors allowed her to turn in her papers late, while her classmates pitched in to take notes.

"I couldn't have done any of this had it not been for all these amazing people in purple," she said.

And now thanks to her Wake Forest family, Kirby is looking forward to the next chapter of her life, graduate school.

"This is incredible. This is so exciting," she said.