Photos: Rebuilding Puerto Rico

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 30, 2018) – 30 students in UAlbany’s College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity (CEHC), along with two staff volunteers, returned to campus last Thursday night from a four-day service trip in Puerto Rico.

Part of Gov. Cuomo’s Puerto Rico Recovery and Rebuilding Initiative, the students joined forces with 500 SUNY Maritime cadets and 13 SUNY ESF students to assist with the storm-battered island’s ongoing Hurricane Maria recovery efforts. SUNY Maritime provided housing in San Juan aboard the Training Ship Empire State VI.

The students partnered with local non-profit rebuilding organizations on several projects, including: farmers restore trade-based agriculture, repainting a community center, preparing damaged roofs for construction and removing debris off beaches and roads.

They were met by UAlbany President Havidán Rodríguez and Betito Marquez, mayor of Toa Baja, Puerto Rico, who toured several of the project sites.

Emily Burkhard of News Channel 13 – WNYT was live on campus to cover the group’s return. 

UAlbany CEHC junior Michael Apollo speaks with News Channel 13 - WNYT after returning from Puerto Rico.
CEHC junior Michael Apollo speaks with News Channel 13 - WNYT after returning to campus from Puerto Rico. (Photo by Mike Nolan)

"You could really see the community is very important to the people of Puerto Rico,” said Michael Apollo, a CEHC junior, speaking with Burkhard. “So making a community center ready for use, they said that a lot of people in that area use it to celebrate birthdays and all kinds of functions, so to make the transition back into normal life after the hurricane, I'm glad I could be a part of that."

"I think the ability for students to volunteer together from different SUNY system institutions was really important,” added Zakhar Berkovich, staff volunteer on the trip and director of student services at Rockefeller College.

The trip counted toward CEHC’s 100 hours of mandatory field training for its undergraduate students. The University at Albany Foundation raised more than $50,000 to help cover costs, with the UAlbany Alumni Association and Juliana Bo Photography each pledging to sponsor 10 students.

Approximately 500 SUNY and CUNY student volunteers are expected participate in additional Puerto Rico deployments of roughly two weeks starting in mid-June.

View more photos and video from the students return in the Times Union. You can also follow the hashtag #UAlbanyStandsWithPR.

Photos by Brian Busher

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany-SUNY offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciencesbusiness, public health, health sciences, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.