Rachel Jeantel Thanks Tom Joyner for Offer to Send Her to College

By Susan Jones | July 18, 2013 | 7:00 AM EDT

Rachel Jeantel testifies at George Zimmerman’s trial on June 27, 2013 in Sanford, Fla. (Photo by Jacob Langston/Orlando Sentinel/AP/Pool)

(CNSNews.com) - Radio talk show host Tom Joyner says his foundation will pay for Rachel Jeantal to go to college, once the 19-year-old friend of the late Trayvon Martin finishes high school.

Joyner made the offer in an "open letter to Rachel Jeantel," posted Wednesday on BlackAmericaWeb.com. Both Jeantel and Joyner appeared on HLN's Nancy Grace show Wednesday night.

Guest host Vinnie Politan told Jeantel that a lot of people had watched her testify for the prosecution in the George Zimmerman case -- "and syndicated radio host Tom Joyner said that he is going to pay for your schooling, your education. What -- are you going to take him up on it, and what do you think of that?"

Jeantel said said she's "blessed," and she thanked Joyner. That's was Politan's cue to bring Joyner on the program, so Jeantel could thank him on the air.

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Joyner told Politan he was watching CNN's Piers Morgan interview Jeantel, and "Piers asked her what she and Trayvon would talk about on the phone. And she said we would talk about your future, but Piers never asked what do you want to do in the future?

"And that just goes back to the way, as Rachel says, parents or adults don't pay attention. They hear their teenagers, but they don't listen to their teenagers. And especially people who, like juror B37, who comes from upper middle class and then look at somebody like Rachel, who comes from an underserved community, and they think because they come from an underserved community, that they're not credible, and that's the farthest thing from -- as she said, that's ridiculous.

"Here's (Trayvon's) best friend talking to him in the final few minutes of his life, and she (the juror) thinks that this young lady is not credible. And she says she couldn`t understand her. Well, you can understand her if you listen, and no one was listening to her -- while the attorney was beating her up.

"And it just bothered me -- it bothered me that Trayvon is gone, and here she is, she's got a future, and what is her future going to be? And so whatever her future is going to be, I want to help her. You -- she's 19 years old, she hasn't graduated from high school yet. That's understandable. For the past year and a half, she's been dealing with this situation. And then what is she going to do after she graduates? What does she want to do? Well, you stand a better chance at success if you have a college education. And if you go to a historically black college, you stand a better chance of being successful. Because at HBCU, you're not just a number, you're family. And when you`re expected to succeed, more than likely you will.

"I know there are a lot of college graduates that are watching this right now that are unemployed. OK. But chances are that you stand a better chance of succeeding in life with a degree than without a degree. And so, Rachel--I`m going to do whatever I can."

After Jeantel said she would accept Joyner's offer, Politan asked her, "What do you want to do in the future?"

Her reponse: "To show everyone, my supporters, that I have a past, but I would believe I'm stronger, I have supporters, I have family, and my attorney who are behind my side every step of the way. And I just want to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. And I'm blessed, and God bless you."

In his letter to Jeantel, Joyner said education is critical: "It won’t solve all of your problems, but it’s something that will make you a contender for opportunities you wouldn’t otherwise be considered for." He also touted "the sense of accomplishment, your ability to stay with something and follow it through to completion, the people you will meet, and the lasting friendships you will make" that are so important.