Campus: CSU Bakersfield -- September 12, 2005
Katrina Victims Enrolling at CSUB
A couple outfits, an "old laptop" and a few textbooks - that's all that Schitara Willis
has left after evacuating her Dillard University dorm room in New Orleans because of Hurricane
Katrina. She, along with some nine other students from the Gulf Coast, will start over again
this fall at California State University, Bakersfield.
"The students are looking for a port in a storm to get some help," said Rita Gustafson, CSUB
records manager in the admissions office. "They came with nothing but the shirt on their backs
and they're thankful." Gustafson said four students affected by Hurricane Katrina are currently
admitted to CSUB and six others are still in the admissions process. The fall quarter starts
Tuesday (Sept. 13).
Students affected by the hurricane who are interested in attending CSUB or a CSU campus should
call Gustafson at CSUB's Admissions and Records Office at (661) 654-3405 or (800) 788-CSUB
(2782) extension 3405; or the CSU Chancellor's Office, Academic Affairs, (562) 951-4727.
Donations on behalf of the students affected by Hurricane Katrina are being accepted at the
CSUB Student Union. For additional information on donations please call (661) 654-2496. For
monetary donations please call the CSUB Foundation at (661) 654-3163.
Willis, an 18-year-old freshman, wasn't convinced she would make it after all that she had
been through. "I told my mom I thought something was going to happen to me because of the
hurricane coming," Willis said. "Then the bus that was taking us from Dillard (in New Orleans)
to a shelter caught on fire." The Sacramento native later came down with the flu while spending
a week sleeping on the floor in an overcrowded shelter. "I don't feel too bad about losing
the material stuff," she said. "Some people lost their homes. I'm lucky."
More than 20 students from the Gulf Coast have contacted CSUB about possibly transferring to
the university, said Kendyl Magnuson, CSUB associate director of admissions. He said the state
has given them a great deal of flexibility in getting these students admitted, dealing with
financial aid and transferable credits. "It's uncharted territory for us," Magnuson said.
"We'll figure it all out after we get these students admitted. We're telling the students to
just start taking their classes and not worry about money. We're trying to shield the students
from that since they've already been through a lot."
And Bill Perry, CSUB assistant vice president of student life, said the university will
facilitate the process and "accommodate students who wish to transfer here and need housing."
Willis is thankful CSUB made the process so easy. "They told me 'All you have to do is get
here,'" she said. The double political science and criminal justice major looks forward to
starting school and seeing her finance who's been serving in the Marine Corps in Iraq. She
escaped New Orleans with her engagement ring but "his ring was left at Dillard."
Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456, firstname.lastname@example.org
Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, email@example.com