About Macon State
By Sheron Smith
Gary Stein rode out every hurricane that threatened New Orleans in the 15 years he lived there.
Until last August, that is, when he accepted a friend’s invitation to spend a few fun-filled days in Destin, Fla., rather than hang around for Katrina.
Two days after the storm, while watching news coverage of New Orleans’ levee breaches from his Destin accommodations, Stein, 38, knew his life had permanently changed.
“I was in shock,” he said. “I realized I was going to have to come up with a new long-term plan.”
Of all the things Stein lost in New Orleans - including most of his belongings from his rented duplex, and jobs driving a taxi and playing guitar in a local band – what bothered him most was the derailment of his college education.
Stein had been well on his way to a bachelor’s degree in finance from the University of New Orleans, so one of the first things he did last fall when he moved to the Macon area to live with his brother and sister-in-law was to check out the area colleges.
He made a cold call to the Macon State College admissions office, where Dee Minter, associate vice president for enrollment services, walked him through the process of transferring from UNO. She also let him know that the College’s Foundation had committed to providing financial assistance to Katrina evacuees who enrolled at Macon State.
As one of several Katrina-affected students who received Foundation grants for tuition and books, Stein enrolled part-time at Macon State this spring to continue what the hurricane had interrupted. And while he’s not sure if he will be in Central Georgia long enough to earn a degree from Macon State, Stein is grateful for the College’s hospitality.
“Macon State said, ‘Come on in, we’ll take care of your tuition and help you so you don’t have to put off school,’” Stein said. “That just says a lot about the College and about this area.”
Ironically, one of his Macon State business professors, Dr. Anthony Patti, used to teach at the University of New Orleans. Stein was also taking an English class this spring from Dr. Derrilyn Morrison.
“The professors I’ve had here are fantastic educators,” he said. “My courses are just as challenging as those I was taking at the University of New Orleans.”
Besides going to school, Stein is working full-time for the company that is helping the former Brown & Williamson tobacco plant sell off equipment to other companies. He’s still sorting out his long-term career goals but knows he wants to work a finance-related job. Meanwhile, he socializes when he can with his brother and sister-in-law, Andy and Tammy Stein, and checks out the local attractions.
“Compared to New Orleans, it’s a lot quieter here,” he said with a grin. “But I like it.”