Robert Smith

Morehouse College class of 2019 are celebrating more than the milestone of earning degrees thanks to their commencement speaker, billionaire investor Robert Smith.

During his remarks, Smith announced that he will pick up the student loan tab of the HBCU's entire class of nearly 400.

"On behalf of the eight generations of my family who have been in this country, we're going to put a little fuel in your bus," he said before informing them that his family was creating a grant to eliminate their student loans.

Morehouse president David A. Thomas told CNN that the total amount could be up to $40M. 

"When you have to service debt, the choices about what you can go do in the world are constrained," Thomas told CNN. "(Smith's gift) gives them the liberty to follow their dreams, their passions."

Forbes Magazine reports that Smith, founder of the investment firm Vista Equity Partners, has a net worth in excess of $5 billion.

He referred to Morehouse’s class of 2019 as “my class.” During the commencement, Smith received an honorary doctorate from Morehouse – along with actress Angela Bassett and psychologist Edmund Gordon.

"Now, I know my class will make sure they pay this forward," he continued. "I want my class to look at these (alumni) -- these beautiful Morehouse brothers -- and let's make sure every class has the same opportunity going forward because we are enough to take care of our own community. We are enough to ensure we have all the opportunities of the American dream."

He challenged his class to succeed to commit themselves to reaching back and helping future generations  as a form of tribute to their ancestors.

"I will never forget that my path was paved by my parents, grandparents and generations of African-Americans whose names I will never know," Smith said. "Their struggles, their courage, and their progress allowed me to strive and achieve. My story would only be possible in America, and it is incumbent on all of us to pay this inheritance forward."

Information from contributed to this report.

You must be logged in to react.
Click any reaction to login.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.