Latonya Young, 43, finally received her college degree from Georgia State University last month, all thanks to a generous Uber passenger who made it possible.
Latonya, a single mother of three sons, works as a hairstylist and became a driver for both Uber and Lyft five years ago to make ends meet for her family.
She had to drop out of high school when she became pregnant with her oldest son – who is now 26 – at the age of 16. Latonya managed to earn her GED in 2007 but said that she “wasn’t fully satisfied because I felt like I hadn’t accomplished a goal that needed to be accomplished. I didn’t want to stop there.” So, she enrolled at Georgia State University in 2010. However, she had to stop attending school due to the $693 debt she accrued.
“I asked them could I pay it monthly and they said they didn’t do payment arrangements so I kind of stopped going to school at that point,” Latonya said. “Then shortly after that I was in a really bad car accident and underwent two surgeries.”
But everything changed for Latonya when she met her Uber passenger, Kevin Esch, 44. She picked him up outside of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in May 2018.
“He got in the car and was really happy and talkative,” recalled Latonya. “I’m a people person too so I always try to talk to people in my car.”
The two got to talking and their conversation went deeper than most that happen in Uber rides. Kevin told Latonya that he was going through a divorce, and Latonya offered her advice, as she herself went through a divorce, too.
Kevin started asking Latonya more about herself, and she opened up by telling him all that she had been through and her dream of earning a college degree.
“I told him that a lot of concerts were going on that weekend and that I was going to work a lot to make the money I needed,” Latonya said.
After the ride, Kevin gave her a $120 tip.
After learning about his Uber driver’s situation, Kevin felt that he had to do something to help. A few days after meeting Latonya, Kevin went to Georgia State University and paid off her $693 debt.
“It was something I could do that I thought was worth it and would really help her,” he told Good Morning America.
Latonya then received a text from Kevin that said, “Okay, you’re all set. Register for your class.” Along with it came a photo of the receipt.
Latonya still remembers the day she received that text, and she could only respond to it with three words: “Oh my God”.
She also recalled that Kevin tried to downplay his generosity.
“I told him, ‘I feel like your $693 is $1 million. I feel like I hit the jackpot.'” Latonya said.
“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,” she said. “He told me to use it for my kids.”
Latonya went back to school in August 2018 and just last month, she proudly walked across the stage to receive her associate’s degree in criminal justice. Of course, Kevin was in the stands with her family and friends to watch her graduate!
“I have thanked him so much but I feel like I haven’t thanked him enough,” Latonya told Good Morning America about Kevin’s generous act. “It was not just the money but his willingness and his sacrifice for me to do better in life. This man knew me for maybe 20 minutes.”
Kevin felt extremely happy for Latonya now that she is one step closer to fulfilling her goals.
“That was amazing, to be there and to see the smile on her face and to know that she did it,” he said. “I know she’s going to go places much further than that now.”
Indeed, she is. Latonya is planning to return to Georgia State this month to pursue her bachelor’s degree. Her ultimate goal is to attend law school and become a defense attorney.
It’s amazing to know that there are people like Kevin who go to great lengths to help a stranger in need. Hopefully, his generosity will inspire other people to do the same in whatever way they can!
Watch the video below: