Gina Cook

‘It Was Huge': Local Morehouse Grad Describes Moment Billionaire Pledged to Pay Loan Debt

A D.C. man who graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta says he's still in shock after billionaire tech investor and philanthropist Robert Smith pledged to wipe out the student loan debt for the school's 2019 graduating class.

"I feel like I’ve been awake for three days straight," Quintin Paschall told News4.

Pashcall expected to graduate Sunday with a Bachelor's degree in English — but had no idea he would leave the ceremony debt-free.

"My family is going to create a grant to eliminate your student loans," Smith told graduating seniors. "You great Morehouse men are bound only by the limits of your own conviction and creativity."

In an instant, the debt of nearly 400 students was set to be paid in full.

"In a matter of like five seconds, it went from just everybody sitting there, to our students shouting," Paschall said.

"I was sitting in the fifth row so as far as we were concerned ... Oh my gosh, it was huge."

Paschall's mom, Debra Paschall, said it only took a few seconds for the magnitude of what had happened to set in for the proud parents in the audience.

"What did he just say? And then we go, 'Ahhh!'" she said.

"For you to see another parent or another family be absolved of this financial debt was just so gratifying."

Smith gave the graduates one condition: to pay it forward.

Quintin is on his way to doing that in a few weeks as a middle school teacher.

"It really just allows us to live the mission that Morehouse College has preached into us so dearly: to develop men with disciplined minds that lead lives of leadership and service," he said.

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