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Katrina Victims Enrolling at CSUB


CONTACT: Mike Stepanovich, 661/654-2456,, or Jaclyn Loveless, 661/654-2138, 

 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 in her new dorm room

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.”

Schitara Willis, 18, shows donations received after  
escaping Hurricane Katrina and enrolling at CSUB.

 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.” 




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