Four cyber security students, who faced not being able complete their major due to the devastation in Puerto Rico by Hurricane Maria, will be coming to Cal State San Bernardino to finish their studies.

The four students from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico (PUPR) could be on campus as early as this weekend, though arrangements are still being finalized, said Tony Coulson, a professor of information and decision sciences and director of the CSUSB Cyber Security Center.

Hurricane Maria’s rampage on Sept. 20 left hundreds of thousands homeless, and most of the island without access to the basic essentials such as food, water, shelter and electricity. The storm, one of the strongest on record, seriously impacted its businesses, hospitals and government.

Maria also affected its schools and colleges, which prompted Professor Alfredo Cruz, who was concerned for his cyber security students, to contact Coulson for help.

“Alfredo said four of his students were unlikely to be able to complete their studies and meet their obligations for scholarships due to the ongoing damage,” Coulson said. “With sporadic electricity and water, they were also in danger like many of the people. Alfredo asked if CSUSB could help. He said, ‘The situation in PR is not good. We do not have electricity, water is scarce as is food, bottles of water, among other essential things.’”

Coulson immediately reached out across campus for help.

“Alysson Satterlund, associate vice president for student affairs and dean of students, started the charge with an ‘anything-you-need-for-the-students’ attitude,” Coulson said. 

They also received help from Tatiana Karmanova, dean of the CSUSB College of Extended Learning; Francisca Beer, dean of graduate studies and student research; Lawrence Rose, dean of the Jack H. Brown College of Business and Public Administration; Jake Zhu, associate dean, Brown College; and Julie Wessel, research administrator for academic research-sponsored.

The group worked with Coulson and the cyber security staff to put together a plan to provide transportation, housing, meal plan, and funding from the center’s National Security Foundation grant, which was approved, with classes arranged through the Information Decision Sciences department from professor Conrad Shayo and faculty member Vincent Nestler.

The four students will be enrolled at the university and live in campus housing, with their studies covered by their scholarships, which will be transferred from Polytechnic University of Puerto Rico, Coulson said.

“This ‘can do’ spirit coupled with compassion is what makes CSUSB a special place,” Coulson said.

Visit the CSUSB Cyber Security Center website to learn more about the program.

For more information, contact the CSUSB Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit