An Uber driver in Georgia has graduated thanks to a nearly $700 donation she received from one of her passengers.
Latonya Young, 43, dropped out of high school when she became pregnant with her son who is now 26 but she managed to get her GED in 2007 and enrolled at Georgia State University in 2010.
However the single mother of three boys had to stop classes due a $693 hold on her account and it was only until she met Kevin Esch last May that she was able to earn her associate’s degree in criminal justice because he personally paid the school a few days later.
Esch text her: ‘Okay, you’re all set. Register for your class.’
Kevin Esch (left) paid off Latonya Young’s debt in May 2018. She had enrolled at Georgia State University in 2010 but had to quit classes due to a $693 hold on her account
Young started classes again August 2018 and graduated last month. She told Esch: ‘I feel like your $693 is $1 million. I feel like I hit the jackpot’
Young had asked the school if she could pay them monthly but they refused. She finally walked across the stage to get her degree last month
‘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 had taken up work with the ride-sharing app as well as Lyft but didn’t manage to save the money required to resume her education due to an accident that required her to have two surgeries plus the financial help she gave her mother and sons.
Young had asked the school if she could pay them monthly but they refused.
After enjoying a deep conversation about his recent divorce and her career goals after picking him up from outside the Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta the air struck up a friendship.
Esch had also tipped Young $120 for the ride via the app.
‘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.’
Esch had also tipped Young $120 after they bonded during a ride where they discussed his divorce and her career aspirations. Since then they have remained in touch
Young tried to return the money to Esch but he declined and told her to spend it on her children
Young returned to classes in August 2018.
Images posted on their Facebook accounts show how Esch was there to watch Young walk across the stage and receive her degree last month.
The pair are seen hugging and holding hands as Esch joined Young’s loved ones at the ceremony.
‘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 posted on Facebook as she celebrated her success. ‘I’m encouraging you all that need an extra push not to give up.’
When graduation day arrive, Esch posted on Facebook alongside pictures of his new friend: ‘So incredibly proud of you.’
Esch told GMA 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 continued.
The single mother of three boys had taken up work with the ride-sharing app as well as Lyft but didn’t manage to save the money required to resume her education due to an accident that required her to have two surgeries. She also used her money to help her mother and sons
Following the graduation, Esch got more of a thrill out of the good deed than he had hoped for after the school sent him a letter to praise him for the generosity
Following the graduation, Esch got more of a thrill out of the good deed than he had hoped for after the school sent him a letter to praise him for the generosity.
‘What an incredibly special gift! Thank you Dean Nancy Kropf for the heartfelt letter and picture frame to commemorate Latonya’s graduation,’ Esch wrote on Facebook.
‘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!’
The story of Young and Esch has made them local stars, with the pair telling their heart-warming story in media interviews.
‘Holy s**t y’all! I am overwhelmed by the response of this whole thing,’ Esch wrote on Facebook. ‘My heart is full. Thank you for every single message, note and post that you’ve sent!
‘Never in a million years did I think that all of this would come from a random Uber ride over a year and a half ago.’
‘I have thanked him so much but I feel like I haven’t thanked him enough,’ Young told Good Morning America.
‘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.’
He added to GMA: ‘It was something I could do that I thought was worth it and would really help her.’
The story of Young and Esch has made them local stars, with the pair telling their heart-warming story in media interviews. ‘I have thanked him so much but I feel like I haven’t thanked him enough,’ Young told Good Morning America