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13 WTHR Indianapolis | Indianapolis Local News & Weather

IU reaches out to grad students in Puerto Rico

Hoosier hospitality is something we often hear about, but Indiana University is actually practicing it.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WTHR) - Hoosier hospitality is something we often hear about, but Indiana University is actually practicing it.

They're hosting a small number of students from Puerto Rico for ten weeks so they might finish their advanced degrees and return home to help the island rebuild.

Bloomington is a long way from Puerto Rico but IU has made the distance easier for six students including Elenita Irizarry Ramos, a high school and middle school teacher on the island where she was working on her doctorate.

"I was trying to be a student full time so it was already stressful before the hurricane but the stress in addition to that, it would not have worked," she said.

That's when she heard about Indiana University's program where they could come and study free of charge.

At first there was consternation in Puerto Rico. After all, they did not want to lose good students to what we call "the brain drain."

IU came back with another idea.

"That's what got us thinking about a program with modest numbers where we can provide attention," Dr. Bradley Levinson said.

A post-graduate program where they have already completed their course work and begin working on their dissertation like Ramos.

And like Francisco Muniz.

"It has allowed me to spend more time focused on what I want to do in academia as well. It opened my eyes to university life here in the states," Muniz said.

Muniz is considering staying in the states because his daughter will soon be attending college here.

Ramos wants to return to her students.

"I want to go back and work to make Puerto Rico better than it was before the hurricane," she stated.

"We hope they take what they learn here, not just their degrees, which are important but they are committed to helping rebuild the island educational system after the hurricane," Levinson said.

And a chance to experience Hoosier hospitality.

"My experience was absolutely gracious, just amazing," Ramos said.