Hip-hop artist Dee-1, best known for his song “Sallie Mae Back,” spoke to sophomores, juniors and seniors about the importance of finishing college and how to make it financially possible.

Follow your dreams and take care of your money.

That was the message spread to students from Middletown and Appoquinimink high schools Nov. 15 at Appo High.

Hip-hop artist Dee-1, best known for his song “Sallie Mae Back,” spoke to sophomores, juniors and seniors about the importance of finishing college and how to make it financially possible. 

“I had a huge dream to graduate college and it changed my life forever,” he said. “I want to help inspire high school students to bridge their dreams and make college happen.”

The New Orleans hip-hop artist graduated from Louisiana State University where he honed in on his passion for music, so  he wanted to encourage students to create a career out of something they love.

Dee-1 partnered with Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading private student loan organization, to create a program called The Bridging the Dream Tour Starring Dee-1.

The program travels to multiple high schools across the country where he shares his story, a motivational message and practical tips with sophomores, juniors and seniors and gives away two $1,000 scholarships.

Nada Sadek, an Appo senior, and Brieana Davis, a Middletown junior, received the scholarships.

His mother encouraged him to study engineering because careers in that field make a lot of money, so he did. Once he got to college, he realized he did not like it. He switched his area of study a couple of times before he discovered his genuine love for music.

“Your dreams should be bigger than any environment you are in,” Dee-1 said. “Your dreams should be your dreams.”

He said college is the place where people can turn their passion into a career, but it’s more than going. They have to finish.

“Going to college does not change your life. Graduating from college changes your life,” Dee-1 said.

He understands everyone has different home situations and life events that could impact how attainable they think college or successful like can be. Speaking from personal experience, Dee-1 said anyone can overcome anything situation they are put in.

“I know my purpose is greater than any situation I am temporarily in,” he said. “Your purpose is greater than any temporary circumstances you are in.”

Dee-1 performed the 2016 viral Youtube hit “Sallie Mae Back” about paying back his student loans after signing a record deal. According to a press release about the program, the song’s message is about “taking care of your money and your responsibilities,” which was a main theme of the program.

Dee-1 addressed the concerns of college affordability by discussing the access to scholarships, grants and loans and the difference between these options.

Most of the auditorium raised their hand when Dee-1 asked if they were intimidated by loans, but he told them they shouldn’t be. If students take them in a smart, manageable way, loans don’t have to be scary.

He recommended to look at the potential entry-level salary of the job they are interested in and take out loans equivalent or less to that.

This is the third year for the tour and Middletown is one of five stops.