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UC Davis Hosts Puerto Rican Graduate Students

 DAVIS -- Last September, Adlin Rodriguez had just begun her last year at the University of San Juan. She was just one dissertation away from becoming Dr. Rodriguez and then, like millions of her fellow Puerto Ricans, Hurricane Maria turned her life upside down and recovery has been painfully slow.

"You try to remain calm, to be positive, but sometimes you get frustrated," Rodriguez said.

She says she and her family were the lucky ones. She only lost her home near the University of Puerto Rico in San Juan.

"You don`t have light, you don`t have communication, sometimes you don`t have even water," Rodriguez said.

That meant a sometimes three-hour long commute each way to campus on dangerous roads. She spent more time driving than studying.

"It doesn`t matter how hard I will be working, the time is not enough," Rodriguez said.

"These factors you cannot control. It`s very, very sad to see that you cannot progress," said University of California, Davis Professor Professor Gerardo MacKenzie.

MacKenzie was one of the Davis professors who volunteered to host Puerto Rican students whose studies had come to standstill due to the devastating storm.

"A year or two having this problem can effect a lot in the long run, so it`s important being able to help at this time," he said.

As an advanced student, Rodriguez doesn`t need much help with her research. But the lab space from UC Davis, guidance of Professor MacKenzie and housing courtesy of another professor have been critical to completing her work in the next two months.

"I think that I can advance a lot, definitely," Rodriguez said.

While Rodriguez isn`t at all excited about her introduction to the cold, she`s finding the Davis community quite warm.

"The people are kind, the campus is beautiful, it`s big," Rodriguez said. "You have a lot of bikes. I love it."

Rodriguez has not made it onto a bike yet, but she already has one and is planning to get rolling soon. Meanwhile UC Davis is preparing for their second Puerto Rican graduate student to arrive in just a few weeks.