Latonya Young, a hairdresser by day and a driver from Uber at night, told CNN Affiliate, WSB She caught a passenger outside the Atlanta Mercedes-Benz Stadium and the two started talking.
The 43-year-old single mother told the passenger that when she was 16, she had to leave high school to raise her first child. And more recently, she had to drop out of college because of a $ 700 balance she couldn't afford.
"Every time I got ready to pay the money, my kids needed something," Young told the story to WSB. "I said," OK, I'll wait. "
It was so, until a few days later, when Young learned that she was eligible to enroll in classes. The passenger, identified as Kevin Esch, paid the balance. This allowed her to enroll in class, earning an associate degree in criminal justice.
"I was literally impressed," said Young. "A stranger never did that – or did something like that – for me."
With the balance paid, Young said he needed to finish his studies for him. "I kept my grades, As and Bs, just trying to make sure he knows I appreciate him," she said.
The two kept in touch and Esch attended graduation in December.
He told CNN that Young is an inspiration and that he is blessed to have had the opportunity to help her.
"There was something about Latonya that just – it resonates with me and we have developed an incredible friendship now and I am incredibly proud of what she has done," he said. CNN Full Circle. "I could have bought new clothes or could have helped someone. And what came back to me came back a hundred times and I would do it a thousand times."
Georgia State University spokeswoman Andrea Anne Jones told CNN in a statement: "Kevin Esch was justifiably applauded and announced for providing the funds to allow Georgia State student Latonya Young to obtain a college degree, but his gift is much bigger With that, he changed a life and opened a door to a better future for a student who, like so many others we see in the state of Georgia, simply needs a chance to reach and succeed. "
With his associate degree, Young won't stop anytime soon. She will return to school this month to graduate in the hope of becoming a lawyer.
This story was updated with comments from Young and Esch on CNN Full Circle.