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Comedian Rickey Smiley motivating Troy University Students

Updated: Feb. 3, 2017 at 10:22 PM CST
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TROY, AL (WSFA) - The 16th annual leadership conference honoring Black History Month kicked off Friday evening at Troy University and a big time comedian with Alabama roots is helping young people realize their potential.

Comedian Rickey Smiley still remembers his freshman year of college when he heard Jesse Jackson speak.

"I remember how I felt how surprised I was," Smiley said.

Smiley hopes to have the same impact on the students and community at Troy University.

"During times like this, that's when comedians seem to get booked because people really need an outlet, they really need to laugh," Smiley said.

Smiley brought the laughs, motivation and some pointers on how a little something extra can be a tool for success.

"You know a lot of kids graduate from college, they have the education, but they don't have the know-how and how to be how to shake hands, just the little extra stuff that you need to go along with a degree," Smiley said.

It's a message that resonated with students.

"It changed my whole mindset. I mean there's so much going on in the community, it takes a strong individual to be able to step up and be the one to make those changes," said Aleeah Stigarll, a grad student.

"We're all here on the same planet, we all need to work together. Build each other up as individuals and work toward a more successful life style for everybody," said Jared Henderson, a Troy senior.

Young people and A-listers alike, motivated and ready to carry the morale of the conference with them every day.

"Out of the thousands and thousands of people Troy University could have invited, they invited me, and I'm really excited and honored to be here," Smiley said.

The theme of this year's conference is "Overcoming the Crisis in Education: Reconnecting, Relevance, and Results." Festivities continue Saturday.

Smiley is the host of the nationally syndicated "Rickey Smiley Morning Show" based in Atlanta.

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