Displaced students trying to adjust

Katherine Sands (The Daily Mississippian)

Since Hurricane Katrina ravaged much of the Gulf Coast, Ole Miss has responded to the tragedy by taking in students stranded by the storm.

These students, mostly from the New Orleans area, have had to deal with great tragedy, but they are now doing what they can to get their lives back on track.

Brittanie Ingram, a senior cell and molecular biology major from Tulane University, left New Orleans on Saturday, Aug. 27, with only a few things from school.

Because Katrina was only a Category 3 hurricane at the time, most students thought they would be back at Tulane within the week.

Ingram, who is from Wiggins, had little idea of the extent of damage to New Orleans until Friday when her cell phone regained service.

She found out then that she would not be returning to Tulane any time soon.

Her home was spared from the storm despite Katrina rumbling through Wiggins, damaging much of the town.

Wiggins is facing problems similar to many towns along Katrina?s path.

?There was no gas. People were buying generators, but they had no gas to put in them,? she said.

Since coming to Ole Miss, Ingram has found the university and the Ole Miss community very helpful.

?They were very quick in servicing me, and I got all the classes I needed. Everybody has really helped a lot,? she said.?

Allison Villemarette, a senior finance and marketing major from Tulane, found herself in circumstances similar to Ingram?s.

Believing the storm was not much of a threat, she left New Orleans with only one bag.

She evacuated to Grenada with her family, who is from New Orleans.

Her family?s home was left with only minor damages and flooding, but the fate of Allison?s home is still unknown.

Her main concern right now is looting and water damage.

She said the university has been very helpful with her transition. ?They have been fabulous, I couldn?t ask for more,? she said.

Because Allison had an academic scholarship at Tulane, she will receive one at Ole Miss, too.

The Financial Aid Office is also helping her pay for things, such as food and books. Ingram, who is in the ROTC, is also receiving scholarship money.

Even with the help they?ve received, these students are still faced with immense struggles. Ingram plans to go to medical school after she graduates in the spring and is concerned about recommendations.

Allison, who also plans to graduate, is concerned about what she will do to prepare for after graduation.

?I had everything planned. It is hard to believe one thing can completely change your life,? Allison said.

Through it all Ingram and Allison still consider themselves lucky.

?It is really hard and stressful but at least I?m in a place with food and power,? Ingram said. ?There are people who lost everything.?