An Uber driver, a single mom of three, has completed her diploma thanks to a massive $700 “tip” from a passenger.
Forty-three-year-old Latonya Young was a high school student when she became pregnant with her son, now 26, and had to drop out of school.
With a strong will to move forward in life, the committed lady cleared her GET in 2007 and started college at Georgia State University in 2010.
Sadly, it was not a smooth ride from down there. Young had to stop taking classes due to a hold on her account that amounted to $693.
Last May, a passenger named Kevin Esch rode with her and that trip changed Young’s fate.
The kind passenger paid all her pending fees within a few days, enabling Young to complete her degree in criminal justice.
Young received a text from Esch, saying: “Okay, you’re all set. Register for your class.”
“I still have the text that he sent me and my response. I wrote back, ‘Oh my God,’” Young told GMA. “I told him, ‘I feel like your $693 is $1 million. I feel like I hit the jackpot.’”
Young worked for two ride-sharing services, Uber and Lyft, but what she earned was still not enough to pay for her studies. She had a severe accident that required a couple of surgeries.
On top of that, she also has to support her mom and three sons.
When she asked her school to break the dues down in monthly payments, the institution did not approve of the application.
Young picked up Esch from outside a Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.
They had a long meaningful discussion about Esch’s recent divorce and Young’s plans for the future. The discussion ended up being the foundation of their friendship.
Esch tipped her a generous $120 for that ride.
“That weekend I did make enough money to pay the $693 and I tried to give it to Kevin and he wouldn’t take it,” Young said, adding, “He told me to use it for my kids.”
Young rejoined the classes in August 2018.
Both Esch and Young shared the photos of their convocation on their Facebook accounts.
Esch was there to watch as Young moved down the convocation aisle across the stage to collect her degree. The photos show the pair holding hands and hugging each other in the celebration of the big day.
“You never know who God will send to change your life All thanks to the man upstairs… It’s not how you start in life… it’s how you finish!!” Young wrote on Facebook celebrating her success.
“I’m encouraging you all that need an extra push not to give up,” she added.
On the graduation day, Esch posted on Facebook: “So incredibly proud of you.”
Esch told GMA that it “was amazing, to be there and to see the smile on her face and to know that she did it.”
“I know she’s going to go places much further than that now,” Esch added.
Following the graduation, the school formally thanked Esch for his extraordinary generosity.
“What an incredibly special gift! Thank you Dean Nancy Kropf for the heartfelt letter and picture frame to commemorate Latonya’s graduation,” Esch shared his thoughts on Facebook after receiving a letter of appreciation.
“I am honored to have been a part of the story and hope that it can serve as an inspiration to all. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!”