Trinity College in Hartford will take in five new students from the island at no cost for the next semester. It’s part of an overall program aimed at supporting the Puerto Rican relief effort.
Angel Perez, Trinity’s vice president for enrollment and student success, was born in Ponce on the south-central part of the island and is the only member of his family besides his brother that doesn’t live in Puerto Rico.
Perez is in charge of admitting these prospective “visiting” students. In addition to a tuition waiver, the five students will get a stipend, partly because they’ll need to buy winter clothing.
“People came together because they felt a sense of hopelessness—what can we do to help out the Puerto Rican community,” Perez said. “Also, there’s a big identity here. There’s lots of Puerto Rican faculty/staff. We are in a Puerto Rican neighborhood. We felt it important to give back.”
To apply, a student must fill out a one-page sheet. This form includes basic student information and a prompt to write 250 words on why Trinity is the school for them.
Perez didn’t even ask for an official transcript because so many people have lost records in the storm. He asked that they just have a professor confirm the information on their transcript.
“They’ve already been through a lot of trauma,” Perez said. “They already have very little access to things. For me to create a complicated system for them would almost be debilitating. And so, part of what I tried to do was to create a very simple one-page application process.”
Two students were already accepted. In addition to this program, Puerto Rican scholars have been invited to speak at Trinity, while the psychology department has offered to assist students on the island in their research projects.
This story is part of “The Island Next Door,” WNPR’s reporting project about Puerto Rico and Connecticut after Hurricane Maria.