Resisting the Storm: Puerto Rican sophomore Rosalind Velez


Cam Lutz | Senior Staff Photographer

Read about sophomore Rosalind Velez from Puerto Rico.

Cam Lutz, Senior Staff Reporter

The start of the spring semester brought 15 new students from Puerto Rico to Tulane. The Hullabaloo thought they deserved a formal introduction in our newest feature: Resisting the Storm.

Each week, The Hullabaloo highlights a different guest Tulane student affected by Hurricane Maria, which struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20, 2017. This week, Rosalind Velez, one of the 15 Puerto Rican students that accepted Tulane’s offer of a tuition-free semester, agreed to share her experiences.

Velez is a sophomore from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico in San German. Though her home is in San German, her sister lives in Louisiana and her cousin works at the Tulane Medical Center, so Tulane has become a second home for her. She is continuing her study of biology at Tulane while her home university recovers from the storm.

Can you describe how your community was affected by the storm?

On our side of the island, it wasn’t really that bad, but my community still doesn’t have any power yet. We always had water. Just for one day we didn’t have a water supply. And basically it was just trees down. Even though it was a really bad experience, the day after was a really nice day because everybody got together, and we started picking up trees and taking them out of the streets. So, other than that, I feel like that’s about it. I’m not gonna try to like tell you horror stories when it wasn’t.

How has your community recovered from it?

They’re still trying to get the power supply company to come fix the problem, ’cause it’s just that the cables that give us power, they are on the [ground] in the mountains. And, well, that’s been really rough for my community because we cannot have, for example, groceries because it’s really hard to maintain those foods [long] enough to use them. But it’s really, I feel like it’s nice because they’re still trying, you know. They haven’t given up. I wish I could just go back over there and help out but I can’t. That’s my community as in my house, but my community in college was really affected given that [the] college is in, like, a forest, so everything went down. My building, the science building, it has mold and fungi and everything, so they had to close down the building to get it fixed. The library, it got flooded, so it was really hard for us to study. So that was really bad too.

What made you decide to come to Tulane this semester?

Well, mostly it was because I couldn’t, for example, do the labs for my science classes. I’m a biology major and I want to go to med school, and I was really looking forward, like last semester, to the zoology lab, which I couldn’t take because of the hurricane. So now I cannot do the labs anymore. 

Are you going to be able to go back to Puerto Rico during the semester?

During this semester? No. Like I was saying earlier, we still don’t have any power, and it’s really hard, for example, like if I have to do any work from here to do it because phone reception is really limited. Some people don’t have internet. We have to go to other places to try to get internet, and sometimes it just doesn’t work. Like some days, you’re just using your phone, like everything’s ok, and then I don’t know where the phone signal just goes, and you’re like, you don’t have any communication whatsoever. So I can’t [go back] because of that and because we really don’t have the money for me to be coming back and forth, ’cause we spent a lot of money on like groceries for the day, and gas for the generator. Oh, it was bad.

What are you most excited about this year?

Mardi Gras, haha. And, I’m really excited about my physics class actually. My professor’s the dean, so I’m really excited about that. ‘Cause, like, I said Mardi Gras. I don’t want you to be like, ‘oh, she’s a party goer,’ or some stuff like that. It’s just like, back home, we don’t get that kind of stuff, you know. And it’s like an opportunity I’m going to be able to have now, because when I lived over here, I was too young to go to the really big parades because my sister, she wouldn’t take me because it was too hectic. So now that I’m older, I can go by myself, I can see how everything goes. I just want to experience it.

Leave a Comment