Waleed Mohamed Shaalan
Class: PhD Student (first year)
Major: Civil Engineering (Environmental and Water Resources)
Hometown: Zagazig, Egypt
Previous Education: BS/MS, Civil Engineering (Zagazig University, Egypt)
Married with One Son (1-1/2 years old)
Died along with Prof. Loganathan and 8 other students in Advanced Hydrology class.
CNN video: Egypt mourns Tech victim
Personal Remembrances From Family/Friends/Colleagues
Submit your personal remembrance for posting here (please include your name and relationship).
In Memory of Waleed Shaalan at Facebook
Newspaper Remembrance Stories
Egyptian Man Came to Tech to
Work Under Professor Who Also was Slain
It was a fast-budding friendship.
Three Muslim men who lived at least some part of their lives in a Middle East country were studying at an American university.
Fahad Pasha, a junior in electrical engineering at Virginia Tech with roots in the United Arab Emirates, said Wednesday that he was close to roommates Waleed Shaalan, a graduate civil engineering student from Egypt, and Irfan Waseem, a graduate student from Pakistan.
On as many evenings as they could, they shared dinner together at their Blacksburg apartment.
On Monday, a campus gunman shot and killed Shaalan while he was in class with G.V. Loganathan, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Tech under whom Shaalan had come to Blacksburg to work, Pasha said Wednesday.
"He was probably the simplest and nicest guy you'd ever meet," Pasha said of Shaalan. "He might be stressed or angry but, if he would see someone, he would have this big smile on his face."
Shaalan is survived by his wife, Amira, of Egypt, and their young son, Khaled.
Pasha spent part of Wednesday packing Shaalan's clothing and belongings into suitcases, but it was tough going.
"I stumbled on a picture of him and his wife and, at that point, I had to leave the apartment," Pasha said.
-- Jeff Sturgeon (Roanoke Times, 4/18/07)
York Times Profile:
Waleed Shaalan, a 32-year-old graduate student, came to the United States from northern Egypt last year to study engineering. He lived among other Egyptian students in Blacksburg, Va., and was planning on bringing his wife and one-and-a-half-year-old son to America in May to live with him.
He was gunned down on Monday while he was studying in Norris Hall, but witnesses say he died a hero.
According to Randy Dymond, a civil engineering professor at Virginia Tech, Mr. Shaalan was in a classroom with another student when the gunman entered and opened fire.
Mr. Shaalan was badly wounded and lay beside the other student, who was not shot but played dead, as the gunman returned two times searching for signs of life. Just as the gunman noticed the student, Mr. Shaalan made a move to distract him, at which point he was shot a second time and died. The student believed that Mr. Shaalan purposefully distracted the shooter to save him, Mr. Dymond said.
"Waleed was bright, energetic and caring," Mr. Dymond said. "The reason we are in higher education is because there are students who are the bright light to the future. Waleed was one of them."
Equally social and studious, Mr. Shaalan was active in the Muslim Student Association at Virginia Tech, and he especially enjoyed participating in the group's community activities.
The Egyptian Consul has notified Mr.Shalaan's wife and parents, all of who live in Egypt. Mr. Shaalan's body will be flown back to his country in the near future, the vice consul, Mohamed Elghazawy, said.
"This is a very emotional time for his entire family, but especially his mother and father," Mr. Elghazawy said.
Husband and father acted heroically
In life, Waleed Shaalan was a graduate student, a husband and father, an observant Muslim. In death, he became a hero.
Shaalan was sitting in his Advanced Hydrology course when the gunman burst in. He and a student next to him were wounded, said Randy Dymond, a Virginia Tech engineering professor.
When the gunman returned and noticed the student, Shaalan distracted the killer by moving, perhaps saving that student's life. "This student was so moved that … he really wanted to get the story out," Dymond said.
Shaalan, 32, of Zagazig, Egypt, had a wife and a son, age 1½. Shaalan studied engineering like his father, then came to the USA to earn a Ph.D. in environmental and water resources engineering, Dymond said. At Virginia Tech, he was a teaching assistant and active in the Muslim community. He planned to return to Egypt.
Engineering professor Marc Edwards described Shaalan as "a wonderful guy."
Washington Post Profile:
When G.V. Loganathan's advanced hydrology class assembled Monday morning in Norris Hall, Waleed M. Shaalan, of course, was seated near the front.
He was that kind of student -- "a workaholic," a faculty member said.
Shaalan, 32, an Egyptian-trained civil engineer, came to Blacksburg in August from the small city of Zagazig in the Nile Delta, leaving his wife and their baby son at home. He was intent on earning a doctorate in hydrology, then returning to teach at his alma mater, Zagazig University, said the faculty member, Hesham Rakh.
"He was very, very studious," said the Egyptian-born Rakh, who teaches in Virginia Tech's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering. He befriended Shaalan at a mosque near the campus not long after Shaalan arrived.
"He would be at the department at 7 in the morning, and he would work until 2 or 3 in the morning sometimes," said Rakh, who lives near the apartment that Shaalan rented, a few miles from campus. "He would actually walk home at 2 in the morning, because the last bus, I think, is around 11 p.m."
So there he was, seated front and center in Loganathan's classroom, when (the gunman) strode in with his guns.
"He was in the front row," said Mohamed Elghazawy, deputy consul at the Egyptian Embassy, who traveled to Blacksburg on Tuesday and was briefed by authorities about Shaalan's death. "When the guy shoots first the professor, then he goes to the students in the first row and shoots them. And this young man, he was among the first to die."
Nine students were slain in the classroom. Loganathan, too.
Rakh said Shaalan, who had just begun the academically grueling, three- to four-year process of earning a doctorate in his field, had little time for hobbies. But the professor did run into him Sunday, savoring Middle Eastern food at Tech's annual International Street Fair.
"This was the last time I saw him, the day before he died," Rakh said. "I shook hands with him, we said hello. And he was smiling, laughing. He was very happy."
He had reason to be. He had purchased an airline ticket to Cairo for May 14. From there, he was to travel north to Zagazig, to reunite with his wife of three years, Amira, and their young son, Khaled. He planned to bring them to Blacksburg, to be with him while he completed his studies.
"He was very much looking forward to it," Rakh said. "Because he missed them so much. He would always talk about them. His son is about a year and a half now, so his son was maybe 8 or 10 months old when he last saw him."
Rakh sighed. "So, you know, he was working just nonstop in the department to finish as much of his studies as he could before they arrived."
Elghazawy said Shaalan worked for Egypt's National Water Research Center after graduating from Zagazig University, then was awarded a scholarship by Tech to pursue a doctorate. This week, it fell to the embassy in Washington to deliver the horrible news to Shaalan's relatives at home.
"His family -- his dad and mom -- was in a very bad situation," Elghazawy said.
He said: "We talked to his brother and uncle in Cairo, because we can't speak to his dad and mom, because of their bad situation. They had a hard time thinking of this. For some time, they could not believe their son is dead."
--Paul Duggan, The Washington Post
Chronicle of Higher Education Profile:
Waleed Shaalan, 32, was close to finishing his Ph.D. in civil engineering at Zagazig University, in Egypt, when Virginia Tech offered him a teaching assistantship for the fall of 2006. He arrived in Blacksburg in August.
His wife of three years, Amira, remained in Zagazig with their 1-year old son, Khaled.
At 4 a.m. on April 16, Mr. Shaalan was still up, studying for an exam in advanced hydraulics. Fahad Pasha, a junior in electrical engineering and Mr. Shaalan’s roommate, sat with him for awhile.
“He was talking about bringing his wife and kid over for the fall semester,” says Mr. Pasha. “He couldn’t do it anymore, with them being so far away.”
The two friends had met in January. They hit it off right away.
“He just came off as the simplest and nicest guy I ever met,” Mr. Pasha says. Although Mr. Shaalan kept very busy, Mr. Pasha says his friend always made time to advise him and their other roommate, as well as serve them cake and tea when they were studying for exams.
In his final moments, Mr. Shaalan performed one more act of selflessness.
On the morning of the attack, the gunman came back to Mr. Shaalan’s classroom twice. On one return, he noticed an unharmed student lying next to Mr. Shaalan, who had been hit and was badly injured. As the gunman approached that student, Mr. Shaalan moved to distract him and was shot again.
Virginia Tech’s tight-knit Muslim community has rallied to remember Mr. Shaalan and support his family. The national office of the Muslim Student Association has begun a collection for Mr. Shaalan’s family, with a goal of raising $25,000.
“Everyone in the community is helping in their own way,” says Ahmed Sidky, a Ph.D. student in computer science and a friend of Mr. Shaalan’s. “Waleed had a huge family here in Blacksburg.”
Virginia Tech Magazine
Though he had a hectic schedule juggling classes, research, and teaching-assistantship responsibilities, Waleed Shaalan, age 32, always made time for the people around him. He was known for his broad smile and the friendly wave with which he greeted everyone.
Waleed came to Virginia Tech in August 2006. An international doctoral student in engineering originally from Zagazig, Egypt, he had no family members in the United States, but he quickly became an essential member of the Blacksburg Muslim community.
Shaalan initially began his Ph.D. program in Egypt, but when Virginia Tech offered him an assistantship position, he chose to continue his studies in Blacksburg. Following in the footsteps of his father, Mohamed El-Sayed Hasan Shalaan, Waleed was a dedicated and passionate student of civil engineering.
Among those mourning his death are his two roommates, Fahad Pasha and Irfan Waseem, for whom he was a loving older brother, cook, and academic and spiritual mentor. “Waleed was the simplest and nicest guy I ever knew. We would be studying for our exams and he would go buy a cake and make tea for us,” says Pasha.
Pasha was the last person to have spoken to Shaalan. “He was studying for an exam the morning of the incident. It was about 4 a.m. when I last saw and spoke to him. We were talking about how amazing it would be when he brought his wife and son to Tech at the end of the summer. I could never have imagined that in six hours he’d be gone forever.”
Waleed Shaalan left behind Amira, his wife of three years, and his 1-year-old son, Khaled.
VT Memorial Scholarship / MSA Memorial Fund
Through the Virginia Tech Foundation, the Waleed Mohamed Shaalan Memorial Scholarship has been established at Virginia Tech in his memory. For more information and/or to donate to this memorial fund, see VT's Hokie Spirit Memorial Funds page.
In addition, the Muslim Student Association of the U.S. and Canada (MSA) has established the Br. Waleed Memorial Fund which is intended to support Mr. Shaalan's family. For more information and to donate to the fund, click here.