Kind-Hearted People Anonymously Help 400 College Graduates

All the young people were part of an organization that supports low-income college students.

May 28, 2020

A group of students from the San Francisco Bay area in California just found out earlier in May 2020 that anonymous donors paid off their student loans. It was just like winning a lottery. Now they can begin the next chapter in their lives’ debt free.

What’s even more remarkable, is that they found out this astounding news on a Zoom call, since social distancing did not allow the students to be together in person.

According to ABC News, the donors who wish to remain anonymous, gave almost $8 million to pay off the student loans of more than 400 college and graduate students. All of these students have already graduated or will by January 31, 2021.

"My mind was spinning, trying to process what a non-debt life was," Zachary Tabb, a 35-year-old pediatric resident at Texas's Baylor College of Medicine, and one of the students, told ABC News. "Basically, I’ve carried around some form of educational debt my entire adult life.... To all of a sudden hear, ‘Well, you don’t have to do that anymore,' it’s like, 'What? Say that again to me.’"

For Tabb, this means having over $160,000 of student loans removed and he now has far more options on what type of medicine he chooses to practice.  He wants to work internationally in global health and the donors have made this a real possibility.

All of the students are alumni of Students Rising Above (SRA) a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco that has empowered low-income first generation college students to continue their education. The organization gives fellowships and runs professional development and mentorship programs, as well as summer internship programs. And, according to SRA, 80 percent of their graduates’ land career-ladder jobs within a year of completing their education. That’s why this gift will help these hardworking SRA alumni to really go far.

“With student loans increasingly becoming a financial burden,” Elizabeth Devaney, chief executive officer at SRA said in a statement. “SRA is grateful for the opportunity to facilitate relief to our hardworking alumni who have become highly productive members of the workforce nationwide.”

Devaney was the person who got to give the SRA graduates the good news on the zoom call, saying,” “What I want to share with you tonight is that anonymous SRA donors have presented us with a remarkable gift… [It’s] intent [is] to eliminate student loan debt for you.”

The students reacted with laughter and tears according to San Francisco CBS Local News; and some couldn’t believe it was real. “I’m shocked,” said Kimberly Armstrong upon receiving the news. “I almost don’t believe it.” Armstrong, a law school graduate owes almost $300,000 in student loans.

Tabb was introduced to SRA as a high school senior who had no plans to attend college until the organization gave him a fellowship to attend; and that he told ABC News, changed his “whole trajectory” in life.

"This [$8 million donation to pay off student debt] in its scale is so emblematic of the work they’ve been doing for decades now," Tabb said about SRA. "It’s just humbling to be part of this history and legacy of the work that they do. I just know that this is going to have such a huge impact on so many lives."

This gift will make a big difference in the lives of so many. Many of these graduates or soon to be graduates will be able to pursue their dreams without worrying about how to repay massive student loans. We hope they go far.

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BONNIE RIVA RAS, EDITOR & WRITER
Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.