ATLANTA, Ga. — A former Uber driver earned her bachelor’s degree this month and she credits a generous passenger she met in 2018 for making it possible.
Kevin Esch was there when Latonya Young received her diploma from Georgia State University on May 6. He shared photos of the occasion on Facebook, along with a congratulatory message.
“You have inspired so many with your story of perseverance and sheer determination and you are living proof that anything you put your mind to can be achieved,” wrote Esch to Young.
The pair formed a heartwarming relationship after a chance meeting in an Uber three years ago. Young was driving for the ride-sharing service when she picked Esch up and the two discussed what was going on in their lives, according to Georgia State.
Young explained that she’s a single mother of three and was working late that night because she needed money to pay a utility bill. She also discussed how she dropped out of college after struggling to pay tuition, and how she wanted to be the first member of her family to earn a degree.
When they arrived at Esch’s destination, he gave Young his number to keep in touch and left a $150 tip to cover her utility bill. Esch told The Washington Post that Young promised she would go back to school, and he asked her to keep him up to date about the enrollment.
However, when Young attempted to re-enroll at the Georgia State, she was told she had to pay off her nearly $700 outgoing balance first. She told Esch about it and, without telling her, he paid off the debt, WSB-TV reports.
Young re-enrolled at the school and received her associate degree in 2019. She wasn’t done there though.
While working multiple jobs to make ends meet, Young pursued her bachelor’s degree.
Along with those jobs, Young also received support from the Jeanette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund, which offers financial aid to low-income women pursuing post-secondary education. And Esch is actually a board member of the organization.
With a little help and a lot of hard work, Young walked the stage to accept her degree in criminal justice on May 6.
Now, she’s seeking a job in the field and her ultimate goal is to work as a federal parole officer, the university says. She’s also preparing to release a book about her journey, called “From Broken to Blessed,” The Post reports.