Share

For Many Puerto Ricans, College Plans Washed Away With Hurricane Maria

Yerianne Roldán and Zuleyka Avila are both seniors during Colonial High School in Orlando, scrambling to regulate their skeleton for college.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Yerianne Roldán and Zuleyka Avila are both seniors during Colonial High School in Orlando, scrambling to regulate their skeleton for college.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Yerianne Roldán wants to be a striking designer, or maybe a writer, or maybe both. Her good crony and classmate, Zuleyka Avila, has already done adult her mind. She’s going to be a pediatrician.

Those skeleton strike a strike in a highway this fall, though, when Hurricane Maria tore by Puerto Rico, where both girls lived with their families. Forced to leave a island — most of that is still though energy — they’ve both relocated to Orlando.

'A New Reality': Students And Teachers From Puerto Rico Start Over In Florida

They are among a some-more than 168,000 people from Puerto Rico who have arrived in Florida given Oct. 3. Schools have felt that influx, with about 7,200 replaced students enrolling from Puerto Rico and a Virgin Islands — Orlando’s largest district has taken in some-more than 2,000 of those students.

Yerianne arrived a month ago. She and her family — her younger sister, her mom and her stepdad — are staying during a hotel by a airport. Zuleyka went to propagandize in San Juan — now she’s vital in Orlando with her grandfather. Both girls are stability comparison year during Colonial High School, a open propagandize where some-more than half of a 240 expertise and staff members have family ties to Puerto Rico, including a principal. The propagandize has already enrolled scarcely 100 students from Puerto Rico and a Virgin Islands.

Colonial High School in Orlando has already enrolled scarcely 100 students from Puerto Rico and a Virgin Islands.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Colonial High School in Orlando has already enrolled scarcely 100 students from Puerto Rico and a Virgin Islands.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Both girls still skip their aged schools and their friends and families. Zulekya says she’s ripped between embracing this new propagandize and being unhappy about blank her comparison year with all her friends from behind home.

But this is their new reality.

At Colonial, there’s a lot of courtesy on going to college. Which is why, a few weeks after they’ve both staid into their classes, they are called, together, to a college specialist’s office.

Zuleyka is still struggling a bit with her English, so Yerianne helps translate. They’re totally overwhelmed, they say, and have no thought where to start.

Avila wants to one day turn a pediatrician.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Avila wants to one day turn a pediatrician.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

It’s tough to start again, Zulekya says in Spanish. She already did this — behind in Puerto Rico — sifting by a college choices, determining that schools to request to and investigate and holding Puerto Rico’s college opening exam. To do it again, in a new place, she says that it’s a lot of work. She is anticipating to investigate biology and afterwards go on to medical school. She’s listened good things about a internal village college — should she request there, even yet her GPA is high? Will her English reason her back?

Yerianne has lots of questions too: When applications ask for her permanent address, should she list a hotel? Or, should she put her stepdad’s bother’s residence in Orlando? She keeps removing emails from a private propagandize she’s never listened of — is that value requesting to?

'Get Us Out Of Here': Amid Broken Infrastructure, Puerto Ricans Flee To Florida

She thinks she wants to find a propagandize with a good promotion program, though should she stay in Florida? She’s meditative probably, yes.

Florida is where some of her extended family lives. In fact, this exodus of a island has been function prolonged before Hurricane Maria hit. And many of those people have come to a Florida. In fact, a state’s Puerto Rican race has some-more than doubled over a past 14 years, according to an research by Pew Research Center. Orlando has been a renouned place to land: In 2013, some-more than 300,000 Puerto Ricans lived in a Orlando metro area, a largest thoroughness of Puerto Ricans in a state.

The advisor shows a girls a list of state schools and helps them record into their online portals so they can hunt for programs and request for scholarships.

Roldán changed from Puerto Rico to Orlando with her family for school. She wants to investigate promotion in college.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR


hide caption

toggle caption

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

Roldán changed from Puerto Rico to Orlando with her family for school. She wants to investigate promotion in college.

Elissa Nadworny/NPR

As a girls record out of his office, they seem some-more optimistic. There are assistance sessions during lunch and after school. There’s a lady who can beam them by a sovereign financial assist form (FAFSA) subsequent week. And they’re both sealed adult to take a SAT in a few days, a exam conjunction has unequivocally had time to investigate for, though on which, it feels to them, most of their destiny depends.

“I’m starting to make a plan,” says Zulekya. Yerianne nods her conduct in agreement, “I didn’t even know where my trail started, and we indispensable support since we can’t do this alone. So, during slightest he helped me with a place to start.”

Amid all this, dual schools in Orlando awarded both Yerriane and Zuleyka scholarships — so that’s carried some weight off their shoulders. Yerrianne says it gave her a certainty boost too.

“The grant has really alleviated some financial stress,” she says. “It creates me feel better, smarter. It confirms that I’m able of doing all we set my mind to.”

Isabel Dobrin, an NPR digital news intern, contributed to this report.