Generosity Helps Spelman-Bound Student Whose Mom's Student Loan Debt Almost Prevented Her From Enrolling

Nayaa Martinique (R) and her mother Tjai Downs.
Nayaa Martinique (R) and her mother Tjai Downs.
Screenshot: Fox 59

We love happy endings at The Root.

On Saturday, we posted a story about the struggle college freshman Nayaa Martinique and her family were having after arriving at Spelman College only to learn that Nayaa was unable to enroll. Her mom, Tjai Downs, a teacher and a veteran, attempted to take out a loan to cover her daughter’s room and board but was denied because of her own student loan debt.


“When we got to Spelman, that is when I became aware of this outstanding balance that was stopping me from being able to take out a loan for her,” Downs told Fox 59.

Because Nayaa had already maxed out on loans, the cash-strapped family had no idea how they were going to raise the money. Enter: you, the readers. The Root is arguably the best black news site in the business, and this story was the most read story of the day. The Root readers found Nayaa’s Go Fund Me page and posted it in the comments. Because we have proof that Beyoncè’s and her people read The Root, the donations started rolling in. What does Beyoncè have to do with this story? Nothing. Unless you consider studies that have shown that the success can be attained quicker the closer you are to Beyoncè. I’d like to think that all the good in the world is because of Beyoncè, who we’ve openly courted to buy The Root.

As of 12:10 pm EST., Nayaa has not only reached her goal of $4,000 she’s well on her way to doubling it. As readers have noted, please continue to donate because Nayaa needs to eat and who knows what’s going to happen in the upcoming semesters.

And while this story is absolutely about a family’s struggle to make sure a child succeeds, it’s also about the kindness of strangers, the power of The Root and Beyoncé.

Senior Editor @ The Root, boxes outside my weight class, when they go low, you go lower.


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I know the student loan situation in this country is unnecessary and ridiculous (I just started the long process of paying my own off), but if she took out so many loans that they actually wouldn’t allow her to take any more out, at that point wouldn’t it make sense to just go to an in-state public university for probably much cheaper? I’m sure Spelman was her dream school, is it really worth it if it’s going to cost her that much?

That being said, I’m happy it’s worked out for her regardless.