SSU helps student affected by fires

For the past few weeks, Sonoma State University students and faculty have worked together to rebuild and support those directly affected by the recent fires and the catastrophe they left. As campus reopened to students on Oct. 18, so did the NomaCares center and its services. 

The school encouraged students to stop by the center with any unanswered questions or assistance they needed. Senior Director of Student Academic Services Jamie Zamjahn said the NomaCares center in the Schulz Library 3001 helped more than 60 students.  

“There are a variety of questions that students may have in regards to being affected by the fires,” Zamjahn said. “Our goal is to either answer those questions, take students to campus partners who have those answers, or connect students to community partners.”

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While the physical center is now closed, NomaCares staff continues to aid students with answers to academic questions and counselling services through Counseling and Psychological Services. In addition, students can receive assistance with the Noma Gives application, textbook replacement, on campus P.O. Box set-up, and other general referrals. 

With new daily resources and community partners, NomaCares strives to make sure students are aware of the services available to them. “Students should not only come to the Undeclared Advising Office, but check out the NomaCares website and read the FAQs along with what is currently being offered by NomaCares,” Zamjahn said. “Our NomaNeeds Facebook Group is another great resource to see up-to-date resources.”

According to Zamjahn, fewer than five students have completely withdrawn from all courses because of the fire.

“Faculty affairs has been working to help faculty help students for different issues that can arise,” said Zamjahn. 

One of those who has been helped is,  senior Sonoma Pettek who fled her home in Coffey Park with her boyfriend and 2-year-old daughter. Around midnight, the winds picked up and the smell of smoke grew stronger, filling their home, she said. After waking her boyfriend, Pettek said, “We walked out into the front yard and I will never forget the intense wind and severe smell of smoke that we experienced out there.” As the fire rapidly grew, Pettek and her boyfriend received a phone call instructing them to evacuate their home. 

“This is when I saw an orange glow in the air, right behind our house. I began to panic at this point, but I was also trying to remain in a clear state of mind for my daughter’s sake,” Pettek said. 

Immediately after the fire, Pettek, her boyfriend and daughter, who lost their home, received emotional and physical support from family and friends. 

“We were so grateful for this generosity and it really made us appreciate the amazing people we have in our lives,” Pettek said. “However, I was so happy to see the community come together like we did and provide so much love and support for one another.”

With the transition back to school, “SSU has been very accommodating to students during this time,” Pettek said. Seeking information post-fire, Pettek said, “I have looked at the NomaCares page a lot and have seen all the great services the school is offering to fire victims.” According to Pettek, the university has offered many services, including counseling and relief funding. “I also received an email from the school offering to email my teachers if I didn’t feel emotionally ready to return to my classes the week after the fire,” Pettek said. “They are also helping me through the fire recovery fund and a gift card that I am supposed to receive.” Reflecting on the university’s services, Pettek said, “I appreciate the school being so helpful during this stressful time in my life, and I hope other students who were affected by the fire are able to use these services as well.”

Students wishing to meet with a NomaCares staff may come to the Undeclared Advising Office in Salazar 1070. “We understand everyone recovers differently and we continue to meet with students on a regular basis,” Zamjahn said.