Morehouse students with local ties react to speaker's pledge to pay off college debt

The 2019 graduates at Morehouse College received the gift of a lifetime when billionaire technology investor and philanthropist Robert F. Smith announced that his family will provide grants to wipe out the student debt of the entire class.

Among the recipients of Smith's generosity were students with local connections. Christian Edwards and Darrell Larome said they were shocked and excited about the announcement but say they didn't hear exactly what Smith said at first. After the news reverberated throughout the crowd they realized what Smith's gift meant.

RELATED: Morehouse graduation speaker pledges to pay class of 2019 student debt

"This changed my life tremendously," Christian said when he spoke with FOX 5 in our studio Wednesday. He said he was very concerned with the amount of college education debt he had accumulated over the years which by his account topped six figure.

Darrell said finances played a major factor in his decision to transfer temporarily to a local community college prior to attending Morehouse College. Now, he says the next step in his education journey will take him to Columbia University where he has received a scholarship.

Both Christian and Darrell plan to heed Smith's advice that this year's class pay it forward and help others with acts of generosity. "Now I can give back to my institution, my family as well, and really soar a little bit faster now that the debt is clear," Darrell said. "He just gave me whole new confidence and I want to say thank you for that!" Christian said.