Displaced Katrina students move on

Talin Maghakian

Almost six months after Hurricane Katrina made landfall and devastated New Orleans and much of the Gulf Coast, displaced students who transferred to California State University campuses to continue their education have begun their second semester away from their home universities.

Shelyn Mouton, psychology major from Xavier University, was displaced because her school was devastated by the hurricane.

A native of Berkeley, California, Mouton moved to New Orleans last summer to start her university education.

“I had only been attending Xavier for two weeks when everything happened,” she said.

Moving to California last fall was difficult, Mouton said. However, she added that she remains optimistic for her spring semester in Northridge.

“It was a little hard adjusting at first since I had to get into my classes four weeks late,” she said. “But this semester I get to start fresh on the same page as everyone else.”

Mouton said she plans to return to Xavier University for her junior year in 2007.

“I want to finish my GE classes here, and then I want to go back because Xavier had always been my dream school ever since I was little and I had always wanted to attend,” she said.

More than 300 displaced students of Katrina began attending CSU campuses last fall.

“They have housing and are establishing connections and a life so it will be up to them to decide if they want to live here,” said Clara Potes-Fellow, CSU spokesperson.

Chelsea Kirby, a student majoring in International Studies from New Orleans University, transferred to Cal State East Bay to keep up with her education, and said she has positive prospects for her second quarter.

“I’m going to try to get through at a good pace and enjoy myself at the same time,” she said.

While she does plan on returning home after graduation, Kirby had great things to say about living in California.

“I’m really liking the Bay area and Cal State as a school,” she said. “There is so much to do here in terms of arts and music, and the weather is beautiful.”

Other students displaced by the hurricane have established a permanent life here in California.

“I had a pretty good semester in the fall,” said Dwight Beasley who moved to Cal State Long Beach from Xavier University. “I live here now in Long Beach.”

Talin Maghakian can be reached at city@csun.edu.