ATLANTA — She graduated from Georgia State University’s Perimeter College in December. The university says she was the first in her family to do such a thing.
Latonya Young, a 43-year-old Tifton native, may not have been able to achieve that milestone if it weren't for the generosity of one of her passengers while she was working for Uber.
Today on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” Kevin Esch said he immediately bonded with Young after an Atlanta United soccer match in 2018 and left her a $150 tip.
The estate manager in Atlanta said that after hearing she wanted to go back to school but was unable to enroll due to an outstanding balance of $700, he decided to pay it off, enabling her to register for classes.
Young tells Ellen that it felt like she had won the lottery. She said that she offered to pay Kevin back, but his only request was to be invited to her graduation.
But they weren't just on the show to tell their story. Ellen and her friends at Honey Nut Cheerios rewarded Esch’s kindness by sending him anywhere in the world of his choosing.
Ellen keeps the surprises coming by revealing a video message from New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees who invites Young, a big fan of the football star, to attend a game next season. Plus, Ellen gives her $25,000 to put toward her student loans, courtesy of Honey Nut Cheerios.
Young said that she wants her meeting with the stranger-turned-hero to inspire as many people as possible, according to an article posted on the Georgia State University website.
Esch said the initial meeting took place in the summer of 2018 when he requested a ride after an Atlanta United soccer game.
The university said the two kept in touch throughout Young's studies, with her giving him updates on her progress.
“I didn’t want to disappoint him,” Young said.
On Dec. 18, the university said she graduated with an associate degree in criminal justice from Perimeter College and is now enrolled in Georgia State’s Andrew Young School of Policy Studies where she’ll work toward her bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She aspires to become an attorney.
MORE HEARTWARMING HEADLINES: