Morehouse Grads Plan For Their Future And Paying It Forward

Written by Ann Brown
Graduates react as President Barack Obama delivers remarks during the commencement ceremony at Morehouse College in Atlanta, Georgia, May 19, 2013. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Earlier this month, Billionaire Robert F. Smith pledged to pay off Morehouse College Class of 2019′s student loans. And he asked those graduates to “make sure they pay this forward.” And the class is planning to do just that.

When Aaron Mitchom, 22, a finance major, heard Smith make the pledge he said tears rolled down his face and said aloud: “Thank you, Jesus. I’m debt-free.”

According to Mitchom, his student loans totaled $200,000 and the first private student loan he took had an 11.85% compound interest rate.

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“Mitchom’s plans to pay it forward include mentoring students and giving money back to Morehouse,” AJC reported.

Meanwhile Brooklen McCarty, a Cinema, Television and Emerging Media Studies fifth-year senior too was surprised by Smith’s gift. His student loans added up to $80,000.

“We looked to our left and our right and everyone was trying to confirm, ‘Did he just say he was going to pay off our debt?’” he said. “It was an amazing experience. Tears were flowing. I have never seen the promise of God come full circle.”

Following the graduation, McCarty and his parents sat in a “hotel lobby talking for hours about how they could pay Smith’s donation forward,” AJC reported.

“We had talked about a fundraiser in the past, but it just never seemed like we were in a position to give to someone not necessarily from a monetary standpoint, but from an influential standpoint,” he said. But after Smith’s offer, his family took another look at the idea. “It doesn’t matter who is giving, it just matters that some sort of change is being made, so we solidified plans for a scholarship in the next two years under the names of my grandparents on both sides. I am big on legacy and passing something to the generation after,” he said.