Nationwide — Destiny Paris James, a student from South Carolina who received $50,000 in financial aid from rapper Drake as seen in his “God’s Plan” music video back in 2018, has recently earned a Master’s degree.
“Mama, I mastered it. Daddy, I did it,” James, who is now 23-years old, took to Instagram as she posted photos before her graduation.
Growing up, James faced challenges living in a single-parent household. She went to the public school system in high school, where people tend to think lowly of the students. James wanted to break that stereotype since then.
“I’ve always had this go-above-and-beyond attitude since elementary school,” she 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.”
After graduating high school, she went to the University of Miami to pursue a degree in public health. She struggled financially to provide for her studies, as well as his father who was diagnosed with stage-four lung cancer and 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.”
But she refused to give up and she studied harder in hopes of receiving scholarships 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 surprised 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.”
That captured 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.
“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 getting 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.”