Evacuated Students Enroll in the Heartland

Evacuated Students Enroll in the Heartland
By: Arnold Wyrick
Carbondale, IL - Thousands of Gulf Coast students had their semester devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Now those students are trying to salvage what's left of their school year. Some of the students displaced by Katrina are enrolling at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale.
Seniors Aurlie Ghignone and Marion Duzac met one another while in classes at Grenoble's College of Management in France. The two decided to get their MBA's in the United States at the University of New Orleans.
"But we only had one week in New Orleans. So we had only been to the French Quarter, and to the University. But we did not see very much of the town," Ghignone said.
She and her classmate ended up at an evacuee center in Pine Bluff, Arkansas. That's where SIU administrators began talking to them about coming to the campus.
"Everybody has been great with us and found us an apartment. Somebody came to the shelter in Arkansas to pick us up, everybody has been really great with us," Duzac said.
SIU's Chancellor and administrators are bending the rules a little to make evacuated students transition onto campus as easy as possible.
"The students will pay in-state tuition. We'll arrange financial aide for them if they don't have it. We'll enroll them basically on their word. Many students will not have transcripts, nor will they be able to get transcripts. All of the normal processes are in a sense null and void, because of the situation," says Chancellor Walter Wendler.
Both Duzac and Ghignone are looking forward to their time at SIU.
"We're really lucky and happy to be here. And to find another university, because when the hurricane came we thought we will have to go back to France, and abandon the idea of doing an MBA," Duzac said.
Once they get settled into their new apartment on campus, Duzac and Ghignone will start classes immediately. And if everything goes as planned the two will graduate in 2006 with their MBA's from SIU.
"So I think it's a responsibility on our part to reach out to these students, and let them know we do care about them." Chancellor Wendler said.
So far four undergraduate, and three graduate students have taken SIU up on their offer to continue their college education in Carbondale, many others are talking to SIU administrators about transferring to the campus.