College Grads Get Best Surprise Ever From Mystery Donors
After hearing the students' stories of overcoming adversity, they were moved to act.
College grads today are facing a grim reality. Not only are they missing out on graduation parties and commencement ceremonies, but economists are predicting graduating seniors could have a tough time finding jobs.
Thankfully, some students are getting some relief when they need it most – and they're getting it from people they've never met.
A group of anonymous donors recently surprised hundreds of graduates with a donation that will completely eliminate their student debt.
The donation of over $8 million was made to Students Rising Above (SRA), a San Francisco-based non-profit that serves low-income, first generation college students.
SRA students get hands-on career coaching, workshops and other opportunities to help them successfully enter the work force. Students Rising Above/Facebook
While SRA students graduate with degrees in a wide range of fields, 100% of them are from low-to-moderate income families and 62% are living below the federal poverty line. The average SRA graduate finishes school with $8,000 in debt.
The students were told the good news over a Zoom video call by SRA's Chief Executive Officer Elizabeth Devaney. In the video, the grads' reactions range from tears of joy, to shock and disbelief – one student who earned a degree in software engineering even did a happy dance.
The graduates' reactions ranged from tears of joy, to shock and gratitude. KPIX-5
"I'm shocked," Kimberly Armstrong told KPIX-5 upon receiving the news. "I almost don't believe it."
"In awe! Flabbergasted! Taken aback," another student said.
The donation will help to pay off debt for 400 students, including Dr. Zachary Tabb, a global pediatric health resident physician who graduated from medical school with about $160,000 in debt. Now, he's debt-free.
"It's life changing," Tabb said. "I've had debt, really my entire adult life. And so it's just something that everywhere you go, it follows you. So this has been nice in that way where I can sort of look broader in terms of what I do next."
Thanks to the donors, SRA graduate Zachary Tabb will have all of his $160K+ student debt erased.KPIX-5
Staff members with SRA say they hope the donation inspires others to pay it forward.
"People are breaking through generational poverty barriers. A lot of these young people are already miracles," Steven Cook, a former SRA grad, said. "So we hope that this sets a trend with other scholarship organizations."
While the donors prefer to remain anonymous, the students were eager to pass on their extraordinary gratitude for what they did.
"God Bless you," said Armstrong. "Definitely, God bless you. I thank you abundantly for even thinking about students like us."
SRA students graduate with an average of $8K in student loan debt. KPIX-5