Katrina Students at the CSU: 100 Days After

Contact: Evelyn Duarte or Clara Potes-Fellow, (562) 951-4800

(December 21, 2005)—More than 300 students who were displaced by Katrina, the most devastating hurricane on recent record, have made new lives for themselves at 20 California State University campuses, where faculty and staff have met them with open arms.

"The first priority for Cal State campuses receiving students from the hurricane-affected states was to make them feel welcome, and restore some sense of structure and normalcy to their lives," said CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed. "That included helping them transfer to our campuses, finding classes and permanent housing, and helping them cope with the anguish and loss they suffered."

The university has made a monumental effort to help Katrina students in every way possible, said Diane Petersen a counselor at California State University, East Bay. "A majority of the students enrolled at our campus received free textbooks graciously donated by the campus Pioneer bookstore, and free housing for the fall semester."

Students arriving to CSU East Bay also received a $200 gift card from Mervyn's and a $50 gift card from Target.

"Faculty members of the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) office at CSU East Bay have done a fantastic job in responding to our concerns and sincerely trying to reach out to us," said Christopher Gibson who enrolled at California State University, East Bay. "I know that I can go to them anytime I have any questions since they are more than willing to assist and guide me."

Dwight Beasley who moved to Cal State Long Beach from New Orleans where he attended Xavier University said that he intends to continue at Cal State Long Beach in 2006 as a double major in Computer Engineer and Business Management. "I have adapted very well at Cal State Long Beach. The faculty and staff have made my transition easy and helped me to adjust to the city and campus life.

"President Robert Maxson and Associate Vice President, Toni Beron devoted a lot of time to meet with me during my first two weeks of school. They helped me see that there are brighter days ahead for me," said Beasly.

Suzanne DeJean, a Community Health Education major, who attends Cal State Long Beach gave credit to the president's office staff at Cal State Long Beach for helping her adjust to campus. "A staff person calls me once a week to make sure I am doing fine," she said. "All of us felt welcome to the campus since day one."

While adapting to a new life in California, many were looking forward to going back home for the holidays and spending time with family and close friends.

"I miss home, my family and especially my social group in New Orleans," said DeJean. "It is hard to go back home because anytime I go back to New Orleans I see that things are not the same since the hurricane."

After one semester spent at a CSU campus many Gulf Coast students are expected to come back in January for the spring semester. Most of them are satisfied and happy with their transition to a CSU campus.

"I will definitely be returning next spring to Cal State East Bay," said Jamilan Colly. "When I first transferred to the campus it was hard for me to adjust but now I am comfortable with the people and the campus."

"I'm enjoying my time at Cal State East Bay and I'm planning to graduate from this campus," said Chelsea Kirby who transferred from New Orleans University and is majoring in International Studies at Cal State East Bay. "I will be retuning next quarter to this campus."

The majority of the students coming from the states affected by hurricane Katrina enrolled at the following California State University campuses: East Bay (66), Long Beach (51), San Diego (46), Dominguez Hills (27), Sacramento (23), Los Angeles (19), Northridge (17).

Other California State University campuses enrolling students displaced by Katrina were Bakersfield, Chico, Fresno, Humboldt, Monterey Bay, Pomona, San Bernardino, San Francisco, San Jose, San Luis Obispo, San Marcos, Sonoma and Stanislaus.

Students quoted on the press release can be contacted at the following numbers:

Cal State Long Beach:
Dwight Beasley: 562-619-2874
Suzanne DeJean: 225-413-6776

Cal State East Bay:
Jamilan Colly: 504-905-2555
Chelsea Kirby: 262-617-1094
Christopher Gibson: 707-319-6115

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Last Updated: April 17, 2007

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