Morehouse’ class of 2019 got the surprise of lifetime at their commencement ceremony yesterday. While 56 year old billionaire Robert F. Smith was there to receive an honorary doctorate from the HBCU, he also offered a commencement speech...and during that speech? Smith promised to pay off the student debt for the entire graduating class. Smith is a former chemical engineer and investment banker, and in 2000 became the founder, chairman and CEO of private equity firm Vista Equity
“On behalf of the eight generations of my family that have been in this country, we’re gonna put a little fuel in your bus,” Smith told the class. “My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans! – This is my class and I know my class will pay this forward.”
Nearly 400 graduating seniors - and staff - were shocked as they leapt out of their chairs and cheered after Smith's announcement. And they should be. That grant reportedly is worth an estimated at $40-million.
- Later, Smith alsoshared a series of photos on social mediadonning a cap and gown holding his diploma with the caption “Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you get educated," he said in part. "Where you go to school shouldn’t determine whether you get textbooks. The opportunity you access should be determined by the fierceness of your intellect, the courage in your creativity and the grit that allows you to overcome expectations that weren’t set high enough."
See the entire speech below.