Bundrea Conway II, 27 from Pontiac, is one of 400 Morehouse College graduates to be promised a debt-free start after college by Robert F. Smith, billionaire technology investor, during the graduation ceremony on May 19. Submitted Photo – Courtesy of Bundrea Conway II If all had gone according to plan, Bundrea Conway II, 27 from Pontiac, would have graduated from Morehouse College with over $40,000 in student-loan debt.

But on May 19, during a commencement speech at the college’s spring graduation, a billionaire technology investor shocked students and their families by promising to pay off the student loans of all 400 graduates at the all-male, historically black college in Atlanta — Conway included.

Robert F. Smith, founder and CEO of Vista Equity Partners, made headlines around the nation for his pledge to give the students a debt-free start in life, provided that they find a way to “pay it forward” for others.

“My first reaction was, is he serious? Can he even do that?” Conway said. “But then we all start looking up on our phones who he is and that excitement hits and I realized, this is the nicest gesture anyone has made or decided to do that I’ve ever seen.”

Conway graduated from Orchard Lake St. Mary’s Preparatory in 2010 before taking a full-ride football scholarship to Northwood University. After a year, he didn’t feel the school was a good fit and decided to move to Atlanta, where the Conways have family. He received a partial-tuition football scholarship to Morehouse in 2013, graduating with a major in Kinesiology and Sports Studies and a minor in Sports Journalism.

Elonda Conway, mother of Bundrea Conway II and his two younger siblings Quamarria and Nyia, who is attending Ferris State for nursing, works as an insurance specialist. Her husband, Bundrea Conway, works in the automotive industry. The couple was prepared to help their son start paying off his student-loans this year, she said, as they grapple with the financial reality of having two children in or graduating from college. The Conway family, siblings and parents of Bundrea Conway II, one of 400 Morehouse College graduates […]

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