Like many others, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised when I heard in the news the action of an American billionaire inventor and philanthropist – Mr Robert Smith. Mr smith just gave a dream graduation gift to 400 graduates. (Check out the impact of the gifts on individuals at the end of the blog post)
During his speech to the mostly black male College in Atlanta, Mr Smith stunned the class of 2019 with his pledge to give them a helping hand to start out their lives as new graduates. He decided to wipe out their debt, thought to be worth up to $40m (£31m); an average of $100000 per student!
So who is Mr Smith and why did he carry out such a great act of giving. Mr Smith is the founder of the private equity firm Vista Equity Partners and one of the most prominent African-American philanthropists. Mr Smith’s net worth is estimated to be around $5bn – making him the wealthiest black American, ahead of Oprah Winfrey.
He grew up in a primarily black neighbourhood in Denver, Colorado, the son of two school principals with doctorate degrees in education. When he was a high school student, Mr Smith applied for an internship at scientific development company Bell Labs, but was told he was too young. That news was not enough to deter him from pursuing his dream, as he reportedly proceeded to call the company every week for five months until he was accepted.
Mr Smith went on to study chemical engineering and later received his MBA from Columbia University. He then took a job at Goldman Sachs, where he began working with technology companies Apple and Microsoft, among others.
In 2000, he left Goldman Sachs to found Vista, and he remains the company’s chief executive. He has spoken about dealing with racism in the cliquey industry of investment and felt pressured to work twice as hard as his peers because of his race. As a result, he has a keen interest to help others achieve their dreams. Mr Smiths announcement came as a massive surprise to the students. Their whole students loan written off! No one could ever have prepared for or imagined this great help just before it happened.
That morning, Mr Smith who would have decided the gift he’s giving, come with good news, whereas some of the students though excited about graduation wouldn’t even have known that there was help at hand. That was something that had never happened before, but someone was coming to deliver the greatest helping hand to the students who may have been disadvantaged due to their colour, background and many more reasons.
As I thought of this gentleman and his help to the students, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how God sends His help to us even when we do not expect it. He is a helper of many who cannot help themselves. One of my current favourite bible verse says
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10
I don’t know what is giving you concern at the moment, but I can assure you that God is able to raise a stranger like Mr Smith who will surprise you with good news as God sets in to help you in your time of need.
Never forget, our God is on your side!
PS : check out the impact of the payment on some of the students