Cornell welcomes 62 Puerto Rican students to Ithaca with handmade hats and mittens

Cornell University has welcomed dozens of students from the Universidad de Puerto Rico to Ithaca for a semester of free tuition, room, and board while their home campuses recover from Hurricane Maria. The students have received hats and mittens handmade by members of the Cornell community.

Cornell welcomes 62 Puerto Rican students with handmade hats and mittens. Photo courtesy of Cornell Chronicle.

“When you hear about events like a devastating hurricane, you want to help out,” said Stacie Mann, Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s K-12 education resource coordinator, who spearheaded the knitting initiative, in a Cornell Chronicle article. “This is a way to directly help individuals. This is something tangible that we can do.”

Cornell says knitters from around the university, and alumni and friends from as far away as Utah, have made hundreds of hats, mittens and scarves for the new arrivals, who are unaccustomed to studying in wintry climes.

Andrea Valdés Valderrama, a senior majoring in English literature, says the opportunity at Cornell “means I can go through a semester without the fear of not completing my assignments due to a random power outage or the loss of internet service.”

A crowdfunding project that ended last week raised nearly $58,000, well over the $40,000 goal, to help cover student expenses like books and supplies, health insurance, food, winter clothing, and transportation.

“I am proud that Cornell stepped up and opened its doors to these students,” said former Cornell trustee Armando Olivera, who visited the island and saw the hurricane’s effects firsthand. “It will be a very long recovery and hopefully by helping these students we will, in some way, help the people of Puerto Rico.”

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