A group of 34 college seniors, set to graduate in May, have seen their student debts paid off, thanks to a local church, which raised more than $100,000 during a month-long fast.
Mya Thompson, a senior at Howard University, was one of the 34 students at the Washington, D.C., college who had their debts erased, thanks to Alfred Street Baptist Church in nearby Alexandria, Virginia.
“I was overwhelmed and excited,” Thompson, 25, said about the surprise. “I’ve always applied for a scholarship, but I’d never received one and it was kind of like, ‘Wow, I finally got chosen.'”
Thompson is a single mother of a six-year-old son and works an overnight shift as a call taker for 911 emergency services, in addition to taking college classes. She received $2,500, the amount she needed to pay Howard in order to graduate.
“Of course it’s stressful to know that you have to have $2,500 to come out of your pocket,” she said. “However, no matter what, I would have paid that by any means, so it’s the fact that I don’t have to worry about paying that on top of my bills and other stuff.”
Thompson, a first-generation college student, and the other 33 seniors learned earlier this month that their debts were being paid when they were called to the university’s financial office. Instead of meeting with a school official, they met with Dr. Howard-John Wesley, the pastor of Alfred Street Baptist Church.
Wesley led his 8,000-member congregation in a period of prayer and fasting during the month of January. Congregants were asked to fast not only with their diets but also with social media and their finances.