Three years ago, Destiny Pairs James got $50,000 in financial aid from rapper Drake which was captured in his “God’s Plan” music video. Now James has earned a Master’s degree.
“Mama, I mastered it. Daddy, I did it,” James, 23, wrote in an Instagram post.
“I’ve always had this go-above-and-beyond attitude since elementary school,” Pairs told Blavity. “I started reading at 3. I would even fight with my older sister when she was 5 or 6 because she wouldn’t let me read her Chicken Noodle Soup books.”
Once she graduated from high school she went to the University of Miami to pursue a degree in public health. James struggled financially to pay for school along with her father who was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer. He died a short time after.
“When I had a certain bill coming up, I would literally obsess over when the pay period starts and ends,” she said. “I would try to squeeze in as many hours and go to my WorkDay and write down all my hours and see how big my check was going to be.”
Through all her struggles she refused to give up while working part-time jobs.
One day, Darlene Rebello-Rao, Assistant Vice President of University Advancement, offered her an opportunity to receive financial support by sharing her story in a video. She went to Frost Music School to film the video and was shocked when Drake came in to give her a $50,000 check.
“He said, ‘I’ve read a lot about you. I’ve heard your story and all the things you’ve been through and all the hard work you’ve been putting in, so I want to give you $50,000 to pay for your tuition.”
The moment appeared in his “God’s Plan” video, where he also donated gifts to several other people. James expressed her gratitude for Drake’s help at the time.
“I would’ve never imagined this happening to me. I’m just a girl from Denmar, SC that wants to MAKE IT and be somebody, and for you to see my hard work means the world. Thank you so much. God, I thank you. You are so great and amazing! Thank you for blessing me when I thought my hard work was going unnoticed. I’m living out my dreams. God’s Plan,” she posted on Instagram at that time.
After she got her Bachelor’s degree in 2019, she went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Public Health at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.
“Everything I went through was so worth it,” James said in 2019. “Thanks to Drake, I’m probably stressing about classes and work, but I’m not stressing about tuition.”
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