Displaced student finds home at USF

Before Hurricane Katrina, Kaydee Butler was looking forward to an exciting senior year among friends at Loyola University.

Butler, who is from Tarpon Springs, was planning on graduating in May with a degree in public relations.

After graduation, she wanted to earn her master’s degree from Tulane University.

Butler is just one out of approximately 90 students affected by Katrina who have decided to continue their studies at USF.

Initially, Butler wanted to attend Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge so she could remain near New Orleans.

But she soon realized that the school was saturated with students in similar situations, so she started looking for alternatives.

Having family close by, she decided to apply to USF and has found it a fitting substitute.

“Everyone’s just been so nice,” she said. “I was admitted here at the last minute, and the students and teachers have done everything they can to help me catch up.”

Butler started classes at USF on Sept. 12 and has subsequently spent her days getting acquainted with USF.

According to Butler, private Catholic schools such as Loyola are considerably different from public schools such as USF.

“But the biggest difference is the size,” she said. “This school is huge, filled with so many people, and I have to get use to it.”

Like other students in similar situations, Butler is planning on going back to Loyola after the fall semester. She hasn’t been there since Katrina but plans to make the trip there soon to see what’s left of her old life.

One of Butler’s concerns was whether Loyola would accept her USF classes.

According to Glen Besterfield, assistant dean of undergraduate studies, the credit transfers should not be a problem.

“The academic community nationwide has opened its heart to these students,” he said. “It would be foolish for them not to do so.”

According to Besterfield, it took a strong collective effort from various departments on campus in order to get students such as Butler to start classes at USF.

Overall, Besterfield said it was a very smooth process, given the circumstances.

“A lot of the students showed up with no transcripts, no vaccination records and even no identification, and we had to get them into classes as soon as possible,” he said.

“Considering the magnitude of the situation, we did a very small thing,” he said. “But to 90 students, we did a very big thing.”