At the moment Samantha Shinsato stood outside Johns
Office last week waiting for a campus tour to begin,
she should have been some 1,100 miles away at another
campus-one located 15 minutes from New Orleans' famed
French Quarter. Now, like thousands of others in her
predicament, the Tulane University sophomore's plans are
put slightly on hold as the city where her college is
located struggles to recover from one of the worst natural
disasters in U.S. history.
Shinsato is one of 29 Katrina-displaced undergraduate
students who have been admitted to Johns Hopkins as
visiting students for the fall semester. Twenty-seven are
from Tulane and two from Xavier University. The students
had until today to register, so it was not known as of
press time how many have accepted the admission offer.
The Catonsville, Md., native said that the past week and a
half has been a whirlwind, and it's still sinking in that
she is now back home in Maryland.
"It definitely is surreal," said Shinsato, a psychology and
political science major. "Especially watching the news,
seeing sites you recognize under water and all those people
in the Superdome. It's all unbelievable. It doesn't feel
like it's happening at all."
Although grateful to have been evacuated safely and to have
this chance to continue her academic career, Shinsato said
that she has mixed feelings about her current situation.
"It is a generous and amazing thing that Hopkins and a lot
of universities are doing, but everyone feels a loyalty to
Tulane. So as much as we appreciate the offer, it's a tough
thing to do still," she said. "My plan is to make the best
of it, get some general courses out of the way and get
ready to go back."
The displaced Katrina students and their families were
invited to the Homewood campus on Sept. 7 for a tour,
followed by an informal luncheon hosted by several
high-ranking university administrators. The students then
met with academic advisers and registered for fall courses,
which began on Thursday.
Susan Boswell, dean of student life,
PHOTO BY HIPS / WILL KIRK
The university's admittance of displaced students is just
one of several efforts Johns Hopkins has made to respond to
the aftermath of Katrina. To date, more than 500 Johns
Hopkins affiliates, with a wide range of specialties, have
volunteered to help with Katrina relief efforts. Many have
already flown south and are working on the ground. The
Critical Event Preparedness and Response, known as
CEPAR, is coordinating Hopkins' response to the crisis.
The Johns Hopkins visiting students plan was a response to
requests for assistance from New Orleans colleges and
universities and from national higher education
associations, such as the American Council on Education. In
accordance with ACE guidelines, the students are admitted
as one-semester visiting students and will return to their
home institutions. If a visiting student has already paid
tuition to the home institution, he or she will not be
charged tuition by Johns Hopkins. If he or she has not yet
paid, Johns Hopkins will collect the home institution's
tuition and remit it to that institution. Visiting students
who need financial aid will receive help filling out and
filing their federal forms and finding other alternatives
for financing the semester.
Besides the two Homewood schools-Arts and Sciences and
Engineering-at least some of Johns Hopkins' six other
academic divisions are expected to register visiting
students from Katrina-closed universities this semester. As
of Friday, Arts and Sciences had admitted four graduate
students from Tulane.
John Bader, associate dean for academic programs and
advising in the School of Arts and Sciences, said that the
plan is to make the transition process as smooth as
possible for the visiting students and to allow them the
opportunity to not lose academic momentum.
"We will work with all these students on a case-by-case
basis to answer any concerns and help meet their academic
needs," said Bader, who attended the impromptu orientation
for visiting students, which was held at Levering's Glass
Pavilion. "We also know our colleagues at Tulane and other
affected institutions will probably be very flexible in
terms of accepting any course work they do here."
Bader said that it's his hope that everyone makes the best
of a very difficult situation.
"I think our students are going to find this very exciting
to get to know students at another university, and to learn
on a more personal level about what they have been going
through, and to support and welcome them," Bader said. "My
main worry is how shell-shocked the [visiting students
are]. They had academic plans, personal plans, and now they
have all been washed away."
Tulane freshman Julia David, who lives
PHOTO BY HIPS / WILL KIRK
Julia David certainly knows the feeling of delayed plans.
David, who is the daughter of Johns Hopkins political science professor Steven
David, had just begun her freshman semester at Tulane when
the hurricane hit.
"I live in Baltimore, and all during my senior year [in
high school] and into the summer all I was thinking about
was kind of getting out. I was starting a whole new
chapter, living in Louisiana. And now I'm back living at
home with my parents. I feel like I'm too old for high
school but not quite in college yet. My life has been
delayed for a little bit," David said. "Seeing the news, of
course, I feel so fortunate to get out. I was upset because
I left some clothes there, but seeing people without food
and water for days makes you think, Well, I was upset about
missing some clothes and a semester of college, but I
should be very grateful that I'm safe and home."
On the medical front of the hurricane response, Johns
Hopkins has already sent two medical teams to Mississippi
and Louisiana and has another team ready to deploy.
"As this is just the beginning of the trial for Louisiana,
Mississippi and Alabama, it is just the beginning of the
Johns Hopkins response," President
William R. Brody said in a letter sent last week to
students, faculty and staff.
Two faculty members from SPSBE's Department of Counseling
and Human Services, Eric Green and Alan Green, left last
week for Louisiana to help with setting up a mental health
crisis response team for those displaced by Hurricane
Katrina, especially children and families [see sidebar].
Johns Hopkins medical experts are also leading two American
Red Cross medical needs assessment teams that left on Sept.
2 for the Gulf Coast area to determine the number of
emergency medical facilities the Red Cross needs to
establish there and what health care resources will be
required to meet the crisis that continues to unfold.
Thomas Kirsch, an assistant professor of
emergency medicine, director of emergency operations at
the School of Medicine and deputy director of
CEPAR, is heading one of the four-person Red Cross teams.
W. Courtland Robinson, an assistant professor of
international health at
the Center for Refugee and Disaster Response at the
Bloomberg School of Public Health, is leading the other.
Kirsch flew to Baton Rouge, La., where his team will assess
the Red Cross' need for doctors, nurses, other medical
personnel and additional Red Cross shelters. Kirsch is a
former national physician adviser for the Red Cross'
Disaster Health Services and a former disaster consultant
for the federal Centers for Disease Control.
Visiting students learn the history of
PHOTO BY HIPS / WILL KIRK
Robinson will be based in Montgomery, Ala., but will be
focusing his team's assessment on the Mississippi Gulf
Coast region. He teaches at Hopkins' Center for
International Emergency Disaster and Refugee Studies and
has worked with numerous refugee and charitable
Other Hopkins experts joining Kirsch and Robinson on the
fact-finding mission for the Red Cross include Marguerite
Littleton-Kearney, a public health nurse who teaches
disaster management at the School of Nursing; disaster
relief expert Alex Vu, an instructor in the School of
Medicine's Department of Emergency Medicine, who also went
to Aceh, Indonesia, following the tsunami last December;
and Kellogg Schwab, an assistant professor and co-director
of the Center for Water and Health at the School of Public
Health, whose areas of expertise include water-borne
illnesses and sanitation.
Additional Hopkins experts have gone or are expected to go
to the Gulf Coast. Lee Jenkins, senior resident in
emergency medicine, has already been deployed as part of a
New Jersey Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Riccardo
Collela, director of the emergency medical service at
Howard County General Hospital, which is part of Johns
Hopkins Medicine, is on standby to be deployed by the
Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A team of physicians from The Johns Hopkins Hospital and
Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center-as well as nurses from
the hospital, Bayview, Howard County General and Johns
Hopkins Home Care Group-will relieve exhausted staff at
West Jefferson Medical Center, a 462-bed community hospital
in Marrero, La., near New Orleans. JHM deployed the team in
response to a request for assistance from the Maryland
Department of Health and Human Services, which was
answering Louisiana's call for help.
In addition, Johns Hopkins Medicine was asked by NIH to
build its own 100-person team of physicians, nurses,
pharmacists, technicians and others to respond rapidly if
called upon to participate in the federal government's
emergency medical relief plan. As of press time on Friday,
this team was still standing by waiting for deployment.
Back at Homewood, the fall semester has kicked off,
unexpected guests and all.
Barbara Berg, mother of visiting student Arielle Berg from
Owings Mills, Md., said that it's been a tough week for her
and her daughter, who is a junior at Tulane.
"She wants to be at Tulane with her friends," Berg said.
"It's heartbreaking watching what is going on to this
wonderful city and the people who live there. And it's
heartbreaking for me to watch my own daughter go through it
also, because even though she is safe and has something to
go back to, it totally disrupts her life."
Berg said that she appreciates all that the university is
"Hopkins has been incredible to us," she said. "JHU is the
only university I called and that she considered. They have
been so welcoming, calling on the weekends and accepting
[her] sight unseen. We're very grateful."
For updates on information related to the Johns
Hopkins-wide Hurricane Katrina Response, go to
Hopkins Medicine has also posted a Katrina page, at
Amy Cowles, David March, Tim Parsons, Glenn Small and
Gary Stephenson contributed to this article.