CSUSB enrolled four students from Puerto Rico this quarter who were unable to attend their university after the devastating Hurricane Maria hit the island.
Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, leaving an estimated 55 people dead and many more injured. With the island in shambles and many buildings completely destroyed, the citizens of the island were left with no power and scarce resources.
“The hurricane was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Puerto Rico,” said Jadiel (last name could not be disclosed for security reasons), one of the students from Puerto Rico. “It’s like what you see when you watch the news, only much worse. I had people I knew who lost their houses, lost their cars. I was fortunate.”
After hearing of the disaster that was taking place in Puerto Rico, CSUSB Professor Tony Coulson reached out to his friend Alfredo Cruz, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (PUPR), to make sure that he was well in the midst of the devastation.
Cruz sent an email that explained that there were some students at the university who were at risk to lose their scholarship due to the fact that they would be unable to attend their university for at least one quarter after the devastating hurricane.
“Alfredo sent out an email with a lot of people saying ‘hey, we need help,’” said Coulson. “Right away, I reached out and said that I would see what I can do to help.”
Coulson reached out across campus for help and received plenty of it. Thanks to a collaborative effort from many people at CSUSB, the students were immediately made a priority, resulting in the arrival of the students at CSUSB.
Those who helped arrange for the students to join us at CSUSB include Alysson Satterlund, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students; Tatiana Karmanova, dean of the CSUSB College of Extended Learning; Francisca Beer, dean of graduate studies and student research; Lawrence Rose, dean of the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration; Jake Zhu, associate dean, Brown College; and Julie Wessel, research administrator for academic research-sponsored.
“The whole campus really just came together in an amazing way and said ‘we’re gonna make this happen,’” stated Coulson. “A lot of people who heard about it said they have never seen a university be able to pull things together that fast.”
Thanks to the collaborative effort of CSUSB, the students were at the university within that same week after Professor Cruz sent out the email. The students were provided with transportation, housing, as well as a meal plan upon arrival on campus.
When the four students arrived, they immediately became involved on campus and made the most of the time that they spent here.
“We want to get involved as much as we can because I know personally I have never been here in America,” said Jadiel, “I wanna do as much as I can and get as much out of the experience as possible.”
The students will return to Puerto Rico at the end of the fall quarter and finish their studies at PUPR.