WT student loses it all in apartment fire

A West Texas A&M (WTAMU) student who just two months ago became a U.S. citizen came home Thursday night to find her entire apartment up in flames.

"People think fire is something that destroys things," Nichelle Obbin said. "In my situation my fire cleansed everything that god said, 'Hey, I don't want you to have this anymore, I want you to have better."'

Obbin is a graduate student at WTAMU. She's studying to be a speech-language pathologist, but all those late night study sessions are are now on the back-burner, as the fire destroyed all of her school material.

"Every single book, every paper, all of it," Obbin said.

According to Obbin fire officials told her the cause of the fire appeared to have started at the cable box. Obbin said before her and her husband left Sunday night they made sure to turn off everything.

"The only thing that was plugged in was the cable company's cable box," she said.

Obbin was born in Kingston, Jamaica, but moved to the U.S. when she was 7, and has only been a citizen for less than two months.

"All I was worried about were those documents, because those are things that I worked so hard to get, and if I didn't have those I wouldn't know how to verify who I am," Obbin said.

Dr. Brenda Cross is the department chair for the Departemtn of Communication Disorders at WTAMU. She said as soon as the community at the university heard one of its own was left stranded without a home, they stepped in.

"We've gotten her into another apartment, and most of her furniture replaced, but there is so much more we have to do," Cross said. "It's the department's mission to replace all of her books."

All for someone who has so much hope in the American dream.

"Growing up with a single mother she pushed me to always know that education is key," Obbin said.

Cross can be contacted at 806-651-5109 or at