Uber Passenger Helps Single Mom Driver Clear Debt and Graduate College

May 27, 2021 Updated: June 5, 2021

An encounter with a generous Uber passenger changed driver Latonya Young’s fate, empowering her to realize her dream of graduating from college.

Picking up passenger Kevin Esch from a soccer game three years ago in May 2018, Young opened up about wanting to return to school. But life was holding her back; a single mom of three with outstanding bills, she couldn’t earmark money for college, reported People.

At the end of their 20-minute ride, Esch made a decision. He gave Young a $150 tip to pay off an electricity bill and told her to chase her dream. The new friends kept in touch.

A few weeks after they first met, Young texted Esch that she was denied re-enrolment owing to an unpaid bill on her college account. On July 2, 2018, Esch paid off Young’s $693 arrears to Georgia State University’s Perimeter College and texted her a photo of the receipt.

“It pushed me to go to school,” the 44-year-old single mom told People. “He just really wanted me to do well. And he was a total stranger.”

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Latonya Young (C) with Kevin Esch (R). (Courtesy of Georgia State University)

Esch, 45, told People that he didn’t want Young’s outstanding debt to be her only obstacle. An estate manager by profession, he has since become a friend and mentor to Young, hoping “the ultimate payback” that he could get would be watching her graduate.

And she did exactly that.

Young graduated with an associate degree in December 2019 before battling the 2020 pandemic, homeschooling, and health setbacks to complete a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies in May 2021. She finished with a 3.5 GPA, reported WSB-TV.

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(Courtesy of Georgia State University)

Young, who had a wayward past and trouble with the law, now wants to become a federal probation officer. She has even penned an autobiography, “From Broken to Blessed.”

She told WSB-TV she didn’t think she would have made it if it weren’t for Esch, who attended the graduation ceremony.

“He was a big part of my journey,” she said. “I don’t think I’d be here if I wouldn’t have met him. I wouldn’t have had this happen.”

Since meeting Young, Esch has joined the board of the Jeannette Rankin Women’s Scholarship Fund, providing financial aid to women struggling with college fees. “They cover whatever it is that’s holding people back,” he told People.

Esch and Young’s journey is also reaping rewards closer to home.

Young’s 19-year-old son, Jakobe, is following in his mother’s footsteps by studying business administration at Perimeter College, the same institution that Young attended.

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