Displaced student chooses to stay - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Displaced student chooses to stay

January 18, 2005

Valdosta - Students displaced by Hurricane Katrina are moving back into the dorms this week as colleges in Louisiana get ready to resume classes.  But not all students are eager to go back.

Shayla Graham is starting spring semester of her junior year at Valdosta State University. But this wasn't exactly part of her college plan. "I wanted to get as far away from home as possible and experience the college life away from home," said Graham.

So she enrolled at Xavier University in New Orleans, and loved the experience there. "I enjoyed it a lot, it was a small campus so it was like a family, we were very close," said Graham.

But in September, Hurricane Katrina tore that family apart, and forced Shayla to move back home and enroll at VSU. "I really didn't take it as seriously as I should have because I only brought one bag," said Graham.

After four months of rebuilding efforts, Xavier is opening back up. But this student isn't going back. "There's a lot of confusion going on as far as cleaning up and rebuilding homes and I'd just rather be home," said Graham.

And a lot of her friends are making the same choice. "The state of mind that New Orleans is in, I don't know if they're ready to handle that because I wasn't," said Graham.

Shayla wants to finish the year out at VSU, then transfer to Georgia Tech. And even though her college plan steered a little off course, she's glad the alternate route led her back home.

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