Friday, September 16, 2005
OU enrolls 15 students impacted by hurricane
By Rebecca Wyatt, OU Web Writer
When Elizabeth Miller and her family heard about Hurricane Katrina heading to their home in New Orleans, they evacuated to Texas, something they had done many times before. Miller expected to return home in time to start her senior year at Tulane University. In the days that followed, she realized she needed to find another school for the fall semester.
“Missing a semester was not an option. It would have set me back an entire year,” said Miller, who intends to go to law school next year.
Miller was not alone in her hunt for a school to attend while the New Orleans area dries out from the floods that occurred after the levee system was overburdened during Hurricane Katrina. Fifteen students made their way to Oakland University and are taking advantage of the fall semester scholarships the university has provided to students from schools in the devastated area.
Julie Holderer, Miller’s roommate at Tulane and a Michigan native, returned to Michigan and heard about the scholarships OU was offering. After enrolling, Holderer alerted Miller, who flew to Detroit and enrolled the next day. Besides the scholarships, Miller said it’s nice to “have a place to stay and a friend to stay with.”
Miller’s family has been in New Orleans for more than 20 years and has relocated to Baton Rouge, La., since the hurricane. Miller and Holderer intend to return to Tulane for the spring semester and hope to return to the house they shared in December. Their house was not badly damaged, but they have not been back to survey the losses yet.
“The hardest thing was being in between and not knowing what I was going to do. Everyone here has been so helpful,” Miller said.
Megan Maes, a University of New Orleans junior, evacuated to Memphis, Tenn., shortly before the hurricane hit, and like Miller, assumed the hurricane wouldn’t hit as hard as predicted.
Once she realized she couldn’t return to New Orleans, Maes took a train to Chicago and then another to Detroit to be with her family. Like many who left, Maes brought few clothes and even fewer possessions.
“The first thing was to get some clothes, and then I needed to get a job to get some money together,” Maes said.
Maes doesn’t know how her house on Magazine Street in New Orleans faired, but as soon as she is able, she plans to return to gather what she can and return to Michigan for good.
“With these storms, I hate making my family worry about me,” Maes said. “I’ll probably try and graduate from Oakland University. I’ve never felt more welcomed.”
Maes praised everyone from the staff that enrolled her to the professors for their accommodating attitudes.
Curran McCarthy was moving into a new apartment and beginning the MBA program at Loyola University when he evacuated on the last flight out with just a briefcase and some clothes.
“All of my belongings are at a storage space, and I have no idea how they are. The area is all under water,” McCarthy said. “It probably destroyed all my material things.”
McCarthy came to Michigan, where he grew up, to stay with relatives and decided to continue with his plans to go to school.
“I’ve heard nothing but good things about Oakland University,” McCarthy said.
The credits he acquires will transfer to Loyola, where he plans to return in the spring. McCarthy said after five years of living in New Orleans and attending school there, he loves the city and wants to return if he can.
“I’m still in a weird state of shock. I’ve been through so many of the hurricanes that didn’t pan out. This one was the bad one,” he said. “I can’t believe the whole city is gone.”
OU students, faculty and staff have worked to help the victims anyway they can. During “OU Shares and Cares” a fund-raiser held on Sept. 9, the university community donated $3,034.26 to the Salvation Army for hurricane relief efforts. And, members of OU’s Delta Sigma Theta Sorority are collecting toiletry and clothing items for Hurricane Katrina victims who are being temporarily housed at the Southfield Civic Center, Ramada Inn and Howard Johnson hotel in Southfield.
For more information on how Oakland University is helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina, visit OU’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort Web page.