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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    La. students look back on a year of transition

    It would be impossible to look back on this past school year without remembering the devastation of the Gulf Coast shortly after classes started, and even the land-locked UA felt the shockwaves of Hurricane Katrina’s wrath as dozens of university students who had found themselves stranded without a school came to Tucson to keep their academic plans on track.

    Justin Spicer was enrolled at Tulane University when Katrina struck New Orleans. With a burning desire to get his degree, Spicer decided that the UA would be a good school to come to, in part because he had grown up in Phoenix and had friends already at the UA.

    Spicer said that he has had some problems working out payments for fall semester because he had been told not to worry about tuition for the fall. But despite the unexpected bills, Spicer, who is taking classes at both the UA and Pima Community College, said he is happy with the transition to Tucson.

    “”I’ve been blessed,”” the undeclared sophomore said. “”I have some childhood friends here, I found a great church, my mother is only 100 miles away. The transition has really been OK.””

    Spicer said he is ready to settle in one place to finish his degree, a sentiment shared by David Levkowitz, an anthropology junior who transferred from the University of New Orleans after the hurricane.

    Levkowitz also has family in Arizona and has been living with his grandparents since moving to Tucson. Though he had spent little time here prior to enrolling at UA, he said the adjustments have been getting easier with time.

    “”I’m more settled in; more comfortable with the city and the campus and more used to the weather,”” Levkowitz said. “”I think I’m going to graduate here.””

    Levkowitz said he had little trouble transferring his credits to the UA, although he had to add a minor that was not required at UNO.

    The financial transition between universities also went quite smoothly, Levkowitz said, with UNO offering a full-tuition refund, which Levkowitz said was comparable to a year at UA.

    Levkowitz had the option of returning to UNO in the fall, but said he decided to complete his degree in Tucson.

    “”I don’t really want to transfer again,”” Levkowitz said. “”And Arizona is a good school, so I might as well graduate from a good school.””

    Levkowitz said he is enrolled for a summer presession class and then plans to return to New Orleans for the rest of the summer.

    Levkowitz went back to New Orleans for the first time since Katrina during spring break. He said his home was one of a few that escaped major damage, but that his once-familiar hometown was not the same.

    “”It was interesting; the city has changed,”” Levkowitz said. “”Hopefully in another couple of months things will get even better.””

    Hal Miller, another UA student from New Orleans, also returned to see the destruction firsthand. Miller’s family lost a home and jobs to Katrina, and after returning over winter break, he decided he needed to go home and do what he could to help out his hometown and his family.

    “”I needed to help out my folks,”” Miller said. “”Things are kind of crazy right now, but the pay is good.””

    Miller now works for a federally contracted company that maintains the more than 40,000 trailers the government has provided for the city’s displaced residents, spending his days in the city’s most ravaged parishes.

    Miller’s time in Tucson has been turbulent to say the least. He spent his first year of college at the UA, but after a rough start decided to return home and enroll at UNO.

    A few months later Miller’s world was turned upside down and he was back at the UA. He said he had originally intended to stay at the UA through the spring semester, but the plight of his family, as well as his own emotional

    turmoil, led him to the conclusion that he needed to go back home.

    “”I had started the (spring) semester and did not know I’d be coming back,”” Miller said. “”I had a hunch that I might, and that became more of a reality.””

    Miller said he hopes to take some classes at Tulane University’s Lagniappe term later this month, but that he ultimately hopes to be able to return to the UA as soon as he can.

    “”I’m very, very glad I came back, but I really do miss the UA,”” Miller said. “”(Returning) would be my goal, possibly in the fall; it’s just a matter of convincing my parents.””

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