The single mother of three will graduate with an associate degree in criminal justice this week.
Photo Credit: Screenshot/Fox 5
by Alyssa CurtisWhen Latonya Young decided to drive for Uber to earn some extra money, she wasn’t expecting any life-changing pick-ups.
The single mother of three had dropped out of high school at age 16 when her first son, who is now 26, was born, according to Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Despite dropping out, she still managed to earn her GED and attend cosmetology school. She began pursuing a degree at Georgia State University until a car crash eight years ago halted her progress.
Young was unable to make some payments to the university, making her unable to re-enroll for classes. She would have to pay nearly $700 in bills before attending once again.
One night, while working Uber, she made a stop at Mercedes-Benz Stadium to pick up a patron after an Atlanta United Football Club soccer match. She and passenger Kevin Esch began a conversation about their present circumstances.
He told her about his divorce, and she explained her dreams to receive a college degree. When she dropped him off to his final destination, he gave her more than just a five-star rating — a $150 tip to aid in her college pursuits.
“He was telling me you’re never too old to get an education,” Young said.
The 43-year-old decided then to get back in the classroom.
She was headed to pay off her bill at GSU when she received a text message. Esch sent her a receipt from the university, showing he paid off her $693 balance, allowing her to re-enroll.
“Nobody’s ever done anything so nice to me in my life,” Young said.
Esch decided to pay it forward because as an estate manager with no children, he figured he’d do something meaningful with his money.
“It just made me feel good to do it,” Esch said. “I didn’t expect anything from it.”
Young immediately went back to school. The two stayed in touch over the past year, with Young updating her former passenger on her course grades. Esch then made one more trip to the Perimeter College campus — this time to join Young in her graduation photoshoot in front of the advisement center, where she posed decked out in her cap and gown.
She said she’s wanted to become a detective or lawyer since she was about 10 years old. She first thought she’d be a prosecutor, but now she aspires to become a defense attorney.
Her middle child, an 18-year-old, is about to join the Navy, but her youngest son seems to have been inspired by his mom. He told his mother he wants to go to college to study marketing and eventually open his own firm.
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