COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - “I’m still trying to figure out am I dreaming or is it really true?” Shawn Swinton from Kingstree, SC was blessed with the gift of a lifetime as he graduated from Morehouse College in Atlanta this weekend.
Robert F. Smith, the commencement speaker for the graduation on Sunday, made the announcement that he would be paying off all the student loans for the 400 men graduating from the all-male historically black college.
“The crowd went crazy - my mom texted me while I was sitting in the front even though she was in the crowd and she said, ‘did you hear that?’ I said, ‘I think I did but I’m not sure,'” Swinton gushed in a Facetime interview as he packed his dorm room up on Monday.
Swinton said many students almost were too shocked to believe it was real. “I specifically asked him when I got up there to get my diploma and said, ‘you said debt free right?’ And he was like - and I quote - ‘yeah do the thing!’”
For many graduates, student loans are a huge burden on not only them, but their families as well. "To have this cleared is definitely a heavy burden lifted off me and my parents,” Swinton said. “This is definitely a blessing.”
However, Swinton says Smith’s call to action “do the thing" will stick with him always.
“This showed me the importance and understanding of philanthropy, and understanding that I too have to pay it forward - even if it’s not in the same 40 million dollar scope as he did, but doing our little parts to pay it forward...for those other students and brothers who will come after us at the institution.”