With a $50,000 scholarship for a University of Miami student, a $10,000 donation to a Frost School of Music outreach program, and a surprise campus performance to film a music video, Drake is way “too good” to the U. Late one February afternoon, students began gathering on the second floor of the Shalala Student Center. Hip hop superstar Drake was rumored to be on campus, and students were abuzz with the possibility.
Within half an hour, the first two floors of the SSC were almost completely filled. Students were then directed by police to clear the building unless they were studying, and crowds filled out by the Lakeside Patio stage area.
As representatives from Cash Money Records patrolled the area with signs stating students in the vicinity were consenting to be filmed, it was confirmed: Drake was on campus and would be granting a scholarship to a student and filming part of a music video.
The $50,000 scholarship was granted to student Destiny James, a senior studying public health. She was chosen for the scholarship after Drake heard how she’d struggled to fund her education, starting with the death of her father two years ago.
Milind Khurana, a junior studying neuroscience and political science, has been friends with James since their freshman year.
“She deserves it; she’s one of the nicest people I know,” said Khurana, mentioning that James is involved with United Black Students. “She works really hard.”
Drake also made a $10,000 donation to the Donna E. Shalala MusicReach Program. MusicReach is a program through the Frost School of Music that pairs underserved students in nearby communities with Frost students as music teachers and mentors.
While James was meeting Drake outside the Frost School of Music, the crowd of students outside the SC grew even larger. Around two hours after the initial rumors started flying, Drake walked out to the Moss Terrace on the third floor of the SC and began performing his single, “God’s Plan.”
He sported a University of Miami sweatshirt and threw up his hands in the U several times during the filming.
“I’ll tell you one thing,” Drake said at the end of his performance. “I’ve been to a lot of places in the world. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a more ‘turnt’ school than this. I wish you all the best in life, a lot of love, a lot of happiness for you, your friends and your family.”
Chazz Guerra-Ogiste, a motion pictures and theater major who graduated in May, said he has been a fan since before “So Far Gone,” Drake’s 2009 mixtape.
“I was just like, ‘Yo, it’s crazy how people get over one man,’” Guerra-Ogiste said. “Drake was playing a dangerous game … I think if anybody else wants to do this, they can come by.”
And people did go “crazy.” Some went to extreme lengths to get the best view or even meet Drake up close. Students reportedly climbed on the roof of the food court and were told by staff to come down.
Audrey Jongens, a junior psychology major, found herself involved in a more complicated scheme to get a close meeting with Drake. She tried to find her way to the third floor but, after facing several security guards, found herself talking to a Starbucks employee who was poking her head out from the bottom of the emergency exit stairs.
The employee told Jongens that Drake would be coming out of the service elevator nearby. Jongens hid behind some boxes in the back of the Starbucks kitchen and waited for about 25 minutes.
She asked a Starbucks employee if she could wear one of their aprons. When Drake came out of the elevator, Jongens sprinted to him and asked for a photo with him and some of the Starbucks workers. He then gave her a hug. In the final cut of the “God’s Plan” music video, which was released 11 days later on Feb. 16, footage of the performance is interspersed with clips of Drake buying groceries for an entire store and presenting people with wads of cash and large checks—including James.
For a few seconds, a shot of the crowd of students that had gathered on UM’s lakeside patio is visible on screen, around the 1:35 mark. Drake later posted two pictures to Instagram from the filming—one, a bird’s-eye view of the crowd from above, announced the release of the video and received 1.7 million likes.
The other was posted a day later and showed the rapper balancing only a few feet from the edge of the Moss Terrace. Its caption read: “Not the safest shot…but I’m still here to write this caption so it worked out.”
This story originally appeared in First Impression 2018 and was written by Senior Staff Editor Annie Cappetta. The Miami Hurricane news staff contributed to reporting.