Southeastern freshman to star in CNN's 'Children of the Storm'
Contact: Christina Chapple
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Shantia Reneau, who has enrolled this semester as a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana University, is one of several young people from New Orleans selected by CNN to share their personal stories of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in a one-hour documentary, “Children of the Storm,” airing on the network on Wednesday, Aug. 29. at 7 p.m. CST.
HAMMOND – For most of the past year, Shantia Reneau’s constant companion has been a small video camera, the means she has used to tell her personal post-Katrina story.
The New Orleans student, now a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana University, is one of several of the city’s young people displaced by the hurricane and who play important roles in CNN’s one-hour documentary “Children of the Storm.” The program, hosted by Soledad O’Brien, is scheduled to run on the network on the second anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, Wednesday, Aug. 29. at 7 p.m. CST.
“CNN came to my school, McDonogh 35, and some other schools in New Orleans where they picked students that teachers recommended and gave us video cameras to carry around and basically tell our story,” Reneau said, while visiting Southeastern for her freshman orientation this summer. “We were told to record our lives, to tell our stories in our own words and video, and I’ve been shooting since last October.”
O’Brien and film director Spike Lee handed out the mini-camcorders to nearly a dozen New Orleans young people, giving them the tools, encouragement and a venue to share their voices and visions. The students were given a simple instruction: “Shoot anything you want to show your daily lives.” Reneau’s tapes, as well as those from other New Orleans students, were submitted regularly to a producer who edited them into packages that aired monthly on the CNN show “American Morning.”
After the hurricane, Reneau and her family evacuated to Port Arthur, Tex., where she attended high school while living in a hotel. For the past year, she has lived in a FEMA trailer in mid-city New Orleans while her family tries to get re-established in the Lower 9th Ward. “We are in the process of rebuilding our home, but it’s taking a long time,” she said.
“Shantia was the perfect candidate to participate in this series,” said Christine Pietz, a CNN producer. “Her work really stands out. She doesn’t hesitate to tell her story to the camera, giving the audience a perfect mix of emotion and actual footage, showing everyone what her life entails.”
In her segment, Reneau – an honors student who qualified for Louisiana’s TOPS program -- worries about whether her total financial aid package will enable her to attend Southeastern, her first choice for a university. Eventually the finances are worked out, and she rejoices at being able to attend Southeastern where she plans to major in social work.
“I first learned about Southeastern when I participated in Upward Bound in the 10th grade,” she said. “I liked the school; it’s not too far from home, the size seems right for me, and it’s a close-knit campus. Also, the teaching seems to be at a very personal level.”
A PERSONAL KATRINA STORY -- Shantia Reneau, who has enrolled this semester as a freshman at Southeastern Louisiana University, is one of several young people from New Orleans selected by CNN to share their personal stories of Hurricane Katrina’s aftermath in a one-hour documentary, “Children of the Storm,” airing on the network on Wednesday, Aug. 29. at 7 p.m. CST.
Available online at www.selu.edu/news_media/news_releases