This item originally appeared in the April 29, 2004 issue of The Tech Talk.
By JULIE MILLER
When 21-year-old Randa Eshaq, a senior biomedical engineering major, first came to Ruston in 2000, she drove down California Avenue and immediately asked, "Where are all the buildings?"
Eshaq grew up in Kuwait, a place where she was used to seeing skyscrapers.
"I knew [Ruston] was a small town before I came here, but when I actually got here, I really knew it was small," she said. "But it's a good thing, and the weather is really good here."
Eshaq resides with her mother in Ruston, who moved with her when she came for college.
"The two of us -- we're sticking together," Eshaq said.
Her other immediate family members consist of her sister, who is a doctor in Yemen; her brother, who supports the family and resides in the United Arab Emirates; and another brother, who lives in Monroe.
Growing up in Kuwait, Eshaq's family was separated because of the Gulf War. Her brother and sister were studying abroad and were not allowed back into the country. Eshaq said perhaps her father's death in 1998 was caused by his inability to reunite the family.
When her father died, her high school was approaching final exam time.
"My father had helped me prepare for [exams], so I thought if I quit, I wouldn't fulfill his dream. I received the highest grade out of the school," she said, adding she did it for him.
Eshaq and her mother moved to U.A.E. to be with her brother shortly after. She decided to study architecture at a university in Hungary.
"But it was like destiny," she said. "We went there, and I put my leg out of the airplane and felt like I didn't want to be there.
"I kept it to myself, and the feeling kept growing. We went to the university and I said, 'I don't want to go to this university.' My brother said OK, and we flipped the trip into tourism."
After seeing a biomedical engineering program at Michigan State University in East Lansing, Mich., Eshaq decided that was something she would like to do. Only she chose to attend Tech instead.
"I heard Tech was good, and [I] didn't want to come too far north," she said. "That would be a shock."
Eshaq has adjusted well to Ruston.
"I'll admit that my first year here, it was difficult because I didn't know anyone, but now I have lots of friends," she said. "Everywhere [my mother and I] go, we know someone."
Eshaq is involved in many campus activities, including the Muslim Student Association, where she serves as president.
"The mission is to make everyone aware of Muslims on campus and make them aware that we are involved."
Eshaq wears a hegab, a traditional Muslim woman's head scarf and said she feels comfortable with it, even though many took them off after the 9/11 attacks.
"Even after 9/11, I got more support. I did not take off my scarf because this is who I am. I'm not going to hide who I am."
Eshaq will graduate this May and plans on getting her master's from Tech.
"I'm very ambitious," Eshaq said. "I want to specialize in space medicine, which sounds geeky, but maybe I will work for NASA."