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By Dr. Kathaleena E. Monds
On a sunny day in Atlanta, 396 African-American men and their families, including one family from Cairo, were in for the surprise of their lives as they gathered at Morehouse College. While all were there to celebrate the completion of the college degrees of their sons, what would happen during the remarks given by Honorary Doctorate recipient, Dr. Robert F. Smith, would leave the packed crowd speechless. The impromptu announcement by billionaire Smith to pay off all student loans of all graduates on May 19, 2019 was met with tears, hugs, high-fives, and a host of emotions.
Most families rejoiced for their one son, but for the Monds family of Cairo, the celebration was doubly exciting since their two sons, Akintunde and Cazembe, were graduating debt free. The overall gift by Dr. Smith is estimated to be $40 million. For the Monds family, this means that an estimated combined total of $50,000 of student loans will be erased – leaving both sons debt free.
Akintunde Gilette Monds, 21, graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in Business Administration – Management. During his matriculation at Morehouse, he had the privilege of traveling to Belize, Dubai, and Abu-Dhabi. Akintunde also had the chance of building strong relationships with his colleagues. As a homeschooled student, K-12, such kinship helped to cement his love of Morehouse College. All of his friends entered fall 2015 and graduated together. The recipient of various scholarships, the need for loans was necessary in order to offset the costs to attend Morehouse College, a private college founded in 1867 and costing more than $52,000 per academic year.
Cazembe Samuel Monds turned 20 years old just one month prior to the Commencement exercises. He completed the requirements for a degree in Business Management – Marketing. He, too, had the opportunity to travel abroad to Dubai, Abu-Dhabi, Cuba, and Dominican Republic. Placing in Sales Force and Quicken Loans competitions, he has his sights set on graduate studies. Cazembe has been accepted to the M.B.A. program at West Virginia University but may decide to take a gap year before pursuing graduate studies.
Akintunde and Cazembe Monds come from a long legacy of Morehouse College men – uncle, Douglas A. Monds (1989-1984); father, John H. Monds (1983-1987); uncle, Jason Monds (1991-1993); cousin, Gregory Gillette (1986-1991); cousin, Primous Howard III (2009-2013); and a host of other cousins.
Morehouse College has a rich history of graduating great leaders, among which includes the Rev. Dr. Martin L. King Jr. (Nobel Prize winner), Maynard H. Jackson (former mayor of Atlanta), Spike Lee (director), Howard Thurman (theologian), and Sanford Bishop (congressman).