Uber driver gets college degree thanks to generosity from passenger

ATLANTA — A former Uber driver said her dream of a college degree was on hold until one of her passengers surprised her with some help.

Latonya Young told Channel 2’s Berndt Petersen that she picked up a passenger outside Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and during the ride they got to talking.

"I got a call to go to (the) stadium. It was an Atlanta United game," Young said.

The 43-year old single mother was a hair stylist by day and an Uber driver by night.

During this particular trip, Young shared a bit of her life story with the passenger.


At the age of 16, she had to drop out of high school to raise her first child. She recently had to drop out of college because of a $700 unpaid balance to Georgia State University.

"Every time I got ready to pay the money, my kids needed something. I said, ‘OK, I'll just wait," Young said.

A few days after that rideshare, Young told Petersen that she got a phone call from the school.

"And the message stated, 'You can register for classes now.' I was literally blown away. A stranger has never done that --- or done anything like that --- for me," Young said.

That stranger was Kevin Esch, the Uber passenger. A couple of weeks ago, he attended Young’s graduation from Georgia State.

"When he paid the balance, I had to do this for him," Young said. "I maintained my grades. As and Bs. Just trying to do everything to make sure he knows I appreciate him."

Young earned an associate's degree in criminal justice. This month she'll be back in class to pursue a bachelor's. Her dreams are coming true, because of a car ride.

"This one changed my life. That one ride," Young said.

The Uber passenger who helped Young was traveling on Wednesday when Petersen asked him for an interview.

He sent a text saying that Young is an inspiration, and he's blessed to have had the opportunity to help her.

Young said she aims to become a lawyer one day and, in a few weeks, she says she’ll be telling her story on “The Kelly Clarkson Show,” which airs on weekdays at 10 a.m. on Channel 2.

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