It’s graduation season and college students across the country are having what is quite possibly one of the best days of their lives thus far.
It’s a hard feeling to beat, that is unless while in cap and gown, someone tells you that your entire student loan will be paid off.
That was the case for 396 seniors from Morehouse College this past weekend.
Billionaire Investor and philanthropist, Robert J. Smith, was finishing up his 2019 commencement speech at the historically black private college in Atlanta, Georgia as he asked all the seniors to rise and embrace one another.
After giving them a moment, Smith made an announcement that will change these men’s lives as well as the lives of those around them indefinitely.
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family who’ve been in this country, we’re going to put a little fuel in your bus.”
He then challenged the alumni in attendance to step as he himself was about to do.
— Morehouse College (@Morehouse) May 19, 2019
“This is my class, 2019, and my family is making a grant to eliminate their student loans.”
As the initially stunned crowd of graduating students began to realize what that meant, a roar filled the air.
While hundreds of students are now rejoicing, there has to be at least one guy that took a year off before going to Morehouse that is really kicking himself right about now.
According to a spokesperson for the school, Smith’s donation will likely pay off around $40 million worth of debt between all of this year’s graduating seniors.
While the donation is staggering in size, chances are the billionaire investor won’t need to eat ramen noodles to stay afloat. Smith’s Vista Equity Partners manages more than $46 billion, overseeing a portfolio of more than 50 software companies.
It’s technology Smith says that will keep creating opportunities for graduates moving forward.
“Technology is creating a whole new set of on-ramps to the 21st-century economy, and together we will help assure that African Americans will acquire the tech skills and be the beneficiaries in sectors that are being automated.”
Smith, a Cornell University and Columbia Business School graduate, received an honorary degree from Morehouse during the ceremony on Sunday.
In addition to his gift to the students of Morehouse, Smith has also signed “The Giving Pledge,” an initiative created by Bill and Melinda Gates wherein ultra-wealthy individuals pledge to give more than half of their estate to causes such as global health initiatives and eliminating poverty around the world.
Hats off to you, Robert J. Smith, and to all the Morehouse grads who will now enter their lives a little lighter on financial stress – hopefully someday getting the opportunity to pay forward this incredible gesture.