Uber driver gets college degree after passenger pays off debt

Latonya Young was able to graduate university after one of her Uber passengers paid off a debt for her. Latonya Young/Facebook

A regular drive for an Uber driver in Georgia turned transformative after she picked up a passenger who would change her life.

Latonya Young was a hairstylist and Uber driver with big dreams of becoming a lawyer, but after dropping out of high school and having a child young, it was hard to make those dreams a reality.

On Dec. 9, all of that changed. She was able to graduate from Georgia State University, all thanks to an act of kindness from a stranger.

The 43-year-old told the passenger her life story, saying she had her son at age 16 and recently had to drop out of college because of a US$700 balance she couldn’t pay off, she told Atlanta’s WSB-TV.

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“Every time I got ready to pay the money, my kids needed something,” she said. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll just wait.'”

Only a few days after the ride, which began with a pickup outside Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Young received a call. Her debt had been paid off by a man identified as Kevin Esch.

“I was blown away,” she said. “A stranger has never done that, or done anything like that, for me.”

She was able to register for classes and eventually graduate with her associate’s degree in criminal justice.

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“I maintained my grades, As and Bs, just trying to make sure he knows I appreciate him.”

Esch and Young kept in touch. He even attended her graduation in December, which Young shared photos of on her Facebook.

In one of the shots, the two embrace in a happy hug. In another, they walk hand-in-hand on the school grounds.

Georgie State University also made sure to give a special congratulations to the graduate, calling it “a big act of kindness from a perfect stranger” in a Facebook post.

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“This one changed my life,” Young told WSB-TV. “That one ride.”

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