Katrina Teens Graduate
Monday, May 22nd 2006, 9:01 AM CDT
High school graduation is an accomplishment every student is proud of, but it's an extra special acheivement Monday night for two girls whose paths were filled with obstacles by Mother Nature.
News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says that diploma just means a little bit more when you have to weather an actual storm to get it.
As Katrina evacuees, both teens landed somewhere they didn't expect, Tulsa, Oklahoma. They not only survived, they thrived. "I was really unsure about my future, you know?" Zantrice Journee's family left New Orleans just before the storm hit. For days the 17-year old didn't know how Katrina had ravaged her beloved city. "We thought that we actually had it bad, that we were kinda miserable, but when I saw how the people were suffering in New Orleans, it just made me realize that we're really blessed to have got out in time."
Thrust into new surroundings, at an already difficult age, the high school senior quickly adapted. "It's been kinda rough you know, going from school to school, but it's okay." Not only did she stay on track to earn her diploma at East Central, she's already taking college courses to pursue a career in nursing. â€œMy family, I'm proud of my family that we all stuck together that we all got through it. It feels good, really really good."
Fellow graduate Danielle Jamison's family didn't make it out in time. They spent four days in the Superdome then boarded a bus with no idea where they'd end up. "We saw a big sign saying 'Welcome to Oklahoma' and we were really shocked."
After a stay at Camp Gruber, Danielle enrolled at Memorial. "Felt like I was alone, didn't know nobody." But she worked, harder she says, than ever before and knew she would make it. â€œI have faith in myself. I feel happy, I'm happy."
Both girls who've been through so much, want careers giving to others, as nurses. Zantrice: "I want to help people out." Danielle: "I like to help people." And while they say Oklahomans have welcomed them with open arms, a part of them will always be in New Orleans. Zantrice: "No matter how dirty the city is or what it's been through, it's home and no place can compare to it."
Danielle graduated Monday, Zantrice will Tuesday. Both plan to go back to New Orleans soon, if not to live, at least to visit.