The Tennessean reports on the experiences of some of the hundreds of college students at New Orleans universities who temporarily or permanently transferred to schools in Tennessee after Hurricane Katrina. Belmont has enrolled 29 students displaced by the hurricane.
From The Tennessean’s page-one report Sunday:
John Toomey misses the cultural gumbo of New Orleans life, his friends at Loyola University and his heavy metal band, Serious Injury. But the college senior has found serendipity amid chaos. After the one-two punch of Hurricane Katrina and broken levees left much of New Orleans under water, Toomey made his way to Nashville and Belmont University, where he fit right into the music business program and the Music City scene.
“Being in a music center, for me, it’s a major opportunity,” Toomey, a music business major who is interning for a music publisher, said over breakfast at the restaurant Noshville on Thursday. “I’m not too upset about it.”
Toomey is one of hundreds of Gulf Coast college students who have found the disruption of an often thrilling time of life softened by the chance to enroll at a Tennessee school. More than 600 hurricane evacuees have enrolled in public colleges and universities statewide. Another 180 or so are at private schools in Middle Tennessee.
Administrators at several universities said they tried to cut through the usual red tape of academic bureaucracy so the displaced students wouldn’t be inconvenienced any further. With the semester already a week or two old on most campuses, time was of the essence.
“There was no way to solve all these problems on the front end,” said Bob Fisher, Belmont’s president. “So we just said, ‘Come on.'”
A photo by Tennessean staff photographer Michelle Morrow shows Rachel Breaux, right, of New Orleans, talking with two other Belmont students who fled Katrina. Breaux, 21, was a senior at Loyola. Christa Osborn, 19, left, and Laura Franzone, 18, center, were sophomores at Tulane.