photo: SUSOM

THE BOTTOM – Saba University School of Medicine (SUSOM) opened its doors on January 8 after hurricanes Irma and Maria. Not all students made it back to the island yet. Third year student SUSOM Danika Delay: “I was stuck in Puerto Rico. The school had to charter a boat in St. Kitts to get us, which ended up to being a long and stressful travel.”

The classes are back to normal at the campus says Danika, however, “there is a shortage of professors and my friends lost half of the semester. I would advise the school to have a better plan of hurricane preparation for the future.”

The university received 53 freshmen totaling 400 students on campus. However, there was a slight decrease of newcomers between the last and current semester.

Dean of SUSOM, Dr. Laskowski: “During my four years of working, this was a first that two hurricanes came at the wrong time with the opening of the new semester. However, we’ve made arrangements for the incoming students and ensured the safety by cleaning up the grounds after the damages. I can say the hurricane did not cause the slight decrease of freshmen.”

Minimum damages
The Round Hill Cafeteria is a local business on the campus. “After the hurricane, we are selling less food. But ensuring that we had at least one week of stock in the storeroom in case of cargo issues from the boats, was important and benefited us”, said Curk Jack, chef of the cafeteria.

Curk further stated, “We closed our doors two days before the hurricane and opened two days after. Surprisingly, students came in to eat as well as study for upcoming exams. Fortunately, there were no damages apart from the trees; however, we did receive a financial loss. We still pay our taxes regardless of not receiving financial assistance from local government.”

Hamza Virk, second year student said, “I was a part of the committee with helping to clean up. We lost the beauty of the flora on campus. But we were lucky to be on Saba compared to the other islands. This is a safe place where I am comfortable.”

College recruitment is mainly done in the United States and Canada at different colleges. The campus has a diverse background with students coming from America, Canada and Asia, Middle East and Africa. Kajori Chakravorty, second year student from Canada: “Saba is definitely back to business along with the university giving myself the advantage of going back home for residency and having affordable tuition.”

Chakravorty’s roommate, Aleena Shaukat says: “this was my second hurricane, especially Maria was very major. We ensured that we stuck together and the landlords make sure of our safety with the closing up of the apartment.”

This year’s graduation is planned for April 19.