When billionaire Robert F. Smith announced that he was paying the student loan debt of Morehouse College’s Class of 2019, Glenn La’Veau was in the crowd. Immediately following graduation, the New Orleans native marked the moment with a photoshoot to honor his mother, Michele Sykes.
The recent grad posted the image on social media with the caption, “My mom never got a chance to begin college. However, if not for her I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to finish. So it’s only right that I share my moment and degree with the person who made it possible.”
La’Veau tells Because of Them We Can that when his mother got pregnant with him at 17, college was no longer an option for her at that time. However, making sure that he pursued his degree was her priority.
“My mom is a single mom. It was her and I that moved me in and out of my freshman dorm. It was her and only her who showed up to parents week. It was her and only her that tried to put my loans in her name,” La’Veau said.
In 2005 La’Veau and his mother lost their home and everything in it due to the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina. Rebounding from that event, attending Morehouse and being in position to walk away from school debt free, wouldn’t have been possible without his mother.
“My mom’s support was pivotal to my success. Not only because she would consistently check in on my well-being, but because I know the completion of this journey is directly related to my mother’s prayers.”
Those prayers gave La’Veau the extra push he needed to take on additional credits in order to graduate last week. He completed 21 credits in the fall semester and another 21 credits in the spring.
“I had upwards of 60k in student loan debt and my plans after college were directly related to the importance of paying that off. So I was looking for a job, any job that would help with that. What Mr. Smith did for me and my fellow Morehouse brothers is relieve us of that burden so we can follow our dreams and passions as opposed to our student loan responsibilities.”
When asked how his mother responded to the announcement, La’Veau shared that she and his family members in attendance were in awe and are still talking about it.
He graduated with his degree in Cinema Technology & Emerging Media Studies, which according to La’Veau “is just fancy terminology for film production.” His plan is to attend NYU Film School so he can accomplish his dream of becoming a director like his Morehouse brother and academy award winner, Spike Lee.
Congratulations again to the Morehouse Class of 2019 graduates, and to the village who helped them graduate from the right college and at the right time on May 19th.
Photo credit: Jungletography