Albany is home for New Orleans Katrina transplant - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany is home for New Orleans Katrina transplant

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August 28, 2007

Albany -- It was two years ago that Ronnell Smith and his family abandoned their New Orleans home.  Now he has a new job, and is working on a career. 

As Ronnell Smith gets ready for classes at Albany State, he reflects on his life of two years ago.

"I had a job, worked a nine to five, I was going to school, and then the next thing you know it was pretty much like we were almost homeless, because they told us we couldn't go back," he said. 

Ronell's family found a home in Boyette Village, thanks to the Greater Second Mt. Olive Church, and something his mother read in the local paper changed his life.

"She saw an article which indicated that Albany State was reaching out to Hurricane Katrina victims, so after that she told me 'Well you don't have anything to lose, why don't you just go and see?'" said Ronell. 

By the end of the day, the University of New Orleans student was enrolled at Albany State.  At the start of his junior year, the future is clear. "I was a marketing manager, but I've changed it over to health care management, because I did a little research, and I saw that there's more of a demand as far as graduate students."

While Ronell's thoughts are focused on his studies and future, he still thinks about New Orleans, but isn't planning to return.   "I have a lot invested here, and that's the reason why I can't go back now."  

Instead, he's planning for graduate school, likely somewhere here in Georgia, his new home. 

Albany State University was able to assist 18 students like Ronell Smith who were displaced because of Katrina.

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