By Laura Quain
Freshman year brings new obstacles for students from all walks of life. Shirin Toshkhujaeva learned this better than anyone before she moved from Uzbekistan to become a permanent resident of Kutztown in fall 2013.
She said, “It was a lot of struggle to convince my parents to come here, it was unbelievable. I was yelled at: I was almost locked up in my room just because I wanted to come here and study.”
She later said that her greatest achievement so far was overcoming this social pressure.
“There is this long term belief in my culture, some traditional-minded people think that money should be invested in the dowry of a girl and not in her education,” said Toshkhujaeva. “I want to be an example of how girls can accomplish a lot through education, careers and through hard work.”
As a professional writing major with a minor in biology, she is learning her sixth language and has interests in both the creative and medical fields. Her career plan is a happy mix of her talents and interests. After her undergraduate degree, she will continue her education in KU’s public health grad school.
“I have this huge interest in medicine,” she said. “I was a clinical nurse back at home. I would administer the injections and I took care of patients. Here, I volunteer in the [Lehigh Valley] hospital. I love medicine, I love the medical environment but at the same time, I have other passions.”
According to Toshkhujaeva, public health would provide her with a common ground where she can use her medical background and expertise with languages and communication. As a public health officer, she would be able to monitor large-scale epidemics in other regions.
She chose KU because she loved the people and the campus. KU’s size was a major factor in her decision to become a Golden Bear.
She feels that she fits in well as a Golden Bear: she has many friends, her favorite restaurant in Kutztown is Tommy Boy’s (though she disagreed that it is classified as a restaurant) and loves macaroni and cheese. She is also a part of the great Wawa vs. Sheetz debate. She says that she plays on team Wawa solely because of their hoagies.
She lives on Main Street with her younger sister, Shodiya, who like Shirin, is a junior at KU.
Shirin’s name means, “pretty girl,” though she says that you can just call her Shirin.