They met as students at Mercer University and reconnected a decade later. Now, they are physicians practicing in their home state of Georgia and set to be married in May.
Dr. Stacy Arrington and Dr. Earl Stewart Jr., both College of Liberal Arts and Sciences alumni, grew up in Augusta and knew a lot of the same people, but their paths didn’t cross until they were Bears.
They both entered Mercer on the pre-med track. Dr. Arrington knew from age 4 that she wanted to be a doctor, while Dr. Stewart’s interest in medicine was piqued and then cultivated through experiences in middle and high school.
Both were heavily involved on campus while at Mercer. Dr. Arrington was active in nondenominational campus ministry Mercer A.G.A.P.E. and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. and was a resident assistant for two years. Her desire to do medical missions was sparked during a Mercer On Mission trip to Costa Rica.
“Mercer taught me how to juggle and be busy,” said Dr. Arrington, who graduated from Mercer in 2010 with a Spanish degree. “It taught me a lot about myself because I realized I had passions about a lot of things. When I do them, I like to do them whole-heartedly. It taught me how to balance and increase my capacity to do more, and I parlayed that into being a physician. It helped shape me in my early 20s to be able to do what I do every day.”
Dr. Stewart, a 2009 biology graduate, was a member of honor council, American Chemical Society, Organization of Black Students and TriBeta Biological Honor Society.
“I often credit Mercer with establishing my foundation,” he said. “Mercer gave me the basics of what I needed to eventually become a physician. It gave me some of the initial introductions to being a lifelong learner and productive citizen. It really gave me the full college experience that so many of us thirst for, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
While the two ran in some of the same circles at Mercer, it was a mutual family connection that facilitated their first meeting. Dr. Arrington was asked to give Dr. Stewart a ride home for fall break.
“I remember picking him up outside the curb of Mercer Hall and him getting in my little red car,” Dr. Arrington said.
“Mercer brought us together,” Dr. Stewart said.
After that, they connected on and off over the years but never got close, until almost 10 years later. By this time, Dr. Stewart had completed his doctorate of medicine degree at Meharry Medical College and residency in categorical internal medicine at Brown University and returned home to Georgia, where he practiced in a few clinics before joining Wellstar Health System in Atlanta in early 2020.
Dr. Arrington had earned a master’s degree in biomedical sciences at the Suwanee campus of Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine and a doctor of osteopathic medicine at Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine and was in a family medicine residency at Baylor Scott and White Medical Center in Austin, Texas.
In March 2020, she was thinking about her post-residency plans when she saw a Facebook post from Dr. Stewart about a job opportunity. A Facebook message led to a phone call, an ice cream date that summer and an engagement a year later.
“It’s interesting how things come full circle,” Dr. Arrington said. “Even when I was in college, I remember thinking to myself, he’s going to make a good husband someday for somebody, just because I always thought he was a stand-up guy. I always thought really highly of him and respected him a lot.”
The couple now lives in Smyrna, and they’ll tie the knot this spring in Augusta. Dr. Arrington finished her residency in May 2021 and works in Marietta for the Family Health Centers of Georgia, where she uses her Spanish skills daily to communicate with her patients. Living in their home state and having family nearby was important to these two doctors, and it’s been fulfilling for them to serve the communities near where they grew up.
“Wherever I’ve gone, there’s no place like Georgia,” Dr. Stewart said. “It’s a very special place. I see myself living here for the remainder of my life.”
When it comes to being in a relationship with another physician, both said that’s brought nothing but benefits to the table. They understand what the other is going through in their work and can share in the triumphs and hardships.
“He’s so smart and so good at what he does,” Dr. Arrington said. “I often use that as a sharpening for me to be better and do better. At the end of the day, I think we work well because at the core is who we are and layered on top is what we do.”
“It’s beautiful to have someone who you are that compatible with and that you can really see yourself building life with for the foreseeable future,” Dr. Stewart said. “That’s some of the beauty of our relationship, that we strive to make each other better, while we’re trying to better ourselves individually.”