An Athens family has had more than its fair share of graduation ceremonies after three siblings — each with at least a two-year age difference — graduated from separate colleges in the same week.
Brendon Kirby, 25, earned his bachelor's degree in poultry science from Auburn University. Jensen Kirby, 23, earned her bachelor's degree in health and wellness management from Athens State University and Kensley Kirby, 20, will complete the dental assistant program at Calhoun Community College in August, though she was included in the spring commencement ceremony.
The three graduated from Ardmore High School. The oldest graduated in 2010 and the youngest in 2015.
Jensen, who is currently looking for a career in health care, said the best thing about graduating at the same time as her siblings was seeing how proud her parents were of their accomplishments.
“It was better to share it with (siblings),” she said.
Though all ended well, Jensen and her family were worried that her ceremony and Brendon's ceremony would fall on the same day and in different parts of the state.
“My mom almost had a meltdown ... but we realized mine was Saturday and his was Sunday so it worked out,” she said, adding Brendon still wasn't able to attend her graduation because he had a final.
He jokingly blamed the graduation lineup on his sisters being “overachievers.”
“I spent more time at Auburn than I should have,” he said. “I changed majors so I was already going to be behind, and then I took (time) off.”
Brendon began Auburn with a major in accounting, but changed to poultry science after his freshman year. It was a decision he believes served him well. He currently works at Aviagen in Athens as a feed mill technician.
“I knew going into Auburn that agriculture was one thing I wanted to do, but I chose poultry science because there's a 100 percent job placement afterwards,” he said, adding he hopes to one day own his own chicken house.
The youngest of the three, Kensley, said she felt ahead of the game and graduating with her siblings made her feel more advanced, even though she initially aimed to finish first.
“I told them I would graduate before them,” she said. “I knew when I finished up it would be right around the time they were finishing up because I knew (the program) was three semesters long.”
Kensley received her associate's degree at Calhoun's spring graduation, but will be a certified dental assistant once she completes the program this summer.
Though she doesn't have a job lined up right now, she knows she wants to work with pediatrics and she wants to stay near Limestone County.
Parents Gerald and Tracy said they are both proud of their children and thankful Brendon and Jensen's graduations didn't fall on the same day.
“It was kind of an emotional week with all of it going on because of schedules and work,” Tracy said. “Of course, there was immense pride that they all three did it and at the same time. Three kids in five years is a possibility, but we never thought it would happen like that.”
Though three graduation gifts may have gotten a bit pricey, Gerald admits since Brendon is back home, his pocketbook is growing.
“The main thing with Brendon being at Auburn is we were spending several hundred a month with room and board and food,” he said, adding Brendon had a part-time job.
Since all of the children are out of school, they are also now all living back home. Gerald said his wife “wouldn't have it any other way.”
“If we had a big enough house, she wished they would all get married and live here,” he said.
“I love them being home so I'm glad,” Tracy said.