From Indonesia to Ashland: Dea Alqurwani ’19

News Story categories: Engineering Physics Mathematics Student Spotlight

“I am proud to be part of the Randolph-Macon College family—especially the international student community,” says Dea Alqurwani ’19, who is from Malang, a city in East Java, Indonesia. Alqurwani is a Davis United World College Scholar who attended United World College Robert Bosch in Freiburg, Germany before coming to Randolph-Macon.

From Indonesia to Ashland: A young girl hailing from Indonesia, Dea Alqurwani '19, dons a fashionable black turtle neck shirt.

At Home at RMC
When she arrived at RMC, Alqurwani received a warm welcome from everyone, including members of the Office of International Education and the International Interest Group (IIG)—a student organization that encourages appreciation of diverse international cultures.

“I remember the day I arrived on campus,” she says. “My international assistant was worried about me: I’d flown from Indonesia to Washington, D.C. and almost missed my train to Ashland. She knew I’d be stressed out, but thanks to her—and so many others—I quickly felt at home.”

An Exceptional Researcher
An engineering physics major and mathematics minor, Alqurwani loves to conduct research. In 2017 and 2018, she participated in the Schapiro Undergraduate Research Fellowship (SURF) program. SURF students conduct 10 weeks of full-time research under the guidance of a faculty mentor.

With the help of Physics Professor James McLeskey Jr., Alqurwani created hydrophobic membranes for Direct Contact Membrane Desalination. She was invited to present her SURF research at the Conference for Undergraduate Women in Physics in University of Virginia, and at the Conference of Women in Applied Science in University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where she received a Best Poster award.

“Professor McLeskey is a good mentor and advisor,” she says. “I am a first-generation student in my family—the first one to finish high school and attend college. As an international student who does not have family in the United States, it’s been helpful to have someone I can look to for guidance. He and Physics Professor Rachele Dominguez helped me map out the classes that I needed to take in order to graduate.”

“Dea has done exceptional research,” says McLesky, “despite the challenges involved in setting up new equipment. In addition to her own responsibilities, Dea welcomed new students to the lab and trained them on how to use the equipment. She is incredibly mature and self-sufficient, working numerous jobs in order to support herself. And even with these extracurricular activities, she has maintained superior academic performance and always has a smile on her face. We are all proud of her success and cannot wait to see what her future holds.”

Campus Life + Future Plans
Alqurwani is a member of the Society of Physics Students and Macon Women Engineers, and works in the Advancement Office, at the ITS service desk, and as a tutor in the Higgins Academic Center. She is also a member of several honor societies: Pi Mu Epsilon, Chi Beta Phi, Omicron Delta Kappa, and Phi Beta Kappa.

After volunteering this summer at an orphanage near East Timor, she will begin graduate school at Virginia Tech, where she will pursue an M.S. in engineering mechanics. She’s excited about her future and is keeping her options open. “I don’t want to limit myself to having a career in the United States,” she says. “I would like to explore other parts of the world too.”