When I take a Lyft or an Uber, I actually pray that my ride will be in silence (I’m an introvert, sue me). But some people love to chat with their driver or passenger—and in the case of one Uber driver, chatting with her passenger actually led to the passenger paying off her college debt. Now, Latonya Young is closer to fulfilling her dream of becoming a lawyer.
Young, a hairstylist and Uber driver, picked up a passenger outside of Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and the two began to talk. Young, who is a 43-year-old single mother, told the passenger that she had to drop out of high school at age 16 to raise her first child. She also said she had to recently drop out of college because she couldn’t afford to pay a $700 balance to register for classes.
“Every time I got ready to pay the money, my kids needed something,” Young told WSB. “I said, ‘OK, I’ll just wait.'”
Then, suddenly, Young was informed that she was able to register for classes. How? The passenger, Kevin Esch, had paid the balance.
“Literally I was blown away. A stranger has never done that—or done anything like that—for me,” Young said.
With the balance paid, Young said she had to finish her schooling for him.
“I maintained my grades, As and Bs, just trying to make sure he knows I appreciate him,” she said. Young eventually graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice from Georgia State University.
And she kept in touch with Esch, who attended her graduation in December.
“There was something about Latonya that just — she resonates with me and we developed an incredible friendship now, and I am incredibly proud of what she’s done,” Esch told CNN.
Young continues to reach for her goal. She’s heading back to school this month to pursue her bachelor’s degree—bringing her that much closer to law school.
“I could’ve bought new clothes or I could’ve helped someone out,” Esch explained. “And what has come back to me has come back a hundredfold and I would do it 1,000 times over.”