U student killed in bicycle accident

A 20-year-old international student was hit by a truck near campus.

Elena Rozwadowski

One year ago, 19-year-old Abidah Adam was one of nine Malaysian students who came to the University to study geology.

The nine were winners of a national talent search in their country and Adam quickly emerged as the leader of the group, said professor E. Calvin Alexander of the department of geology and geophysics, the group’s adviser.

“She was the person who made things happen,” Alexander said.

Adam, 20, died about 6:40 a.m. Aug. 17 in an accident at the intersection of University Avenue and Washington Avenue Southeast. While riding her bike, she turned in front of a pickup truck and was hit. She died at the scene.

Last year, the group of students came only a few weeks before the fall semester started, creating some chaos in the department, Alexander said. With pressure to get them into classes and to find a place for them to live, he said “there was a bit of a mad scramble in the department.”

“Somewhere in this whole process, I became attached to them,” he said. He became the group’s adviser and began to communicate with Adam.

Alexander said she was a very bright student and that he looked forward to having her in one of his classes this spring. He said what he remembers most about her are her “human skills.”

“She was (like) a mother,” he said. “She took care of everyone around her.”

Adam was the third of four children. Her friends said she was very close to her siblings, especially her younger brother. She used to call them every week and would often have video chats with them on her webcam.

Adam planned to return to Malaysia after completing her undergraduate degree, where she would work as a geologist for 10 years under the oil company that awarded her scholarship.

Adam later wanted to become an education adviser to international students in the United States so she could move back with her parents, her friends said.

While attending the University, Adam took road trips to places including Washington, D.C., New York, Pennsylvania, Montana and Chicago.

She also collected key chains from every state in the United States. She was missing only two: Wisconsin and Texas.

Adam loved learning about new cultures and sharing her own with others. She was the only Malaysian student to join a discussion group organized by the International Student and Scholar Services office.

Discussion leader Theresa Ganglghassemlouei said Adam’s willingness to share her thoughts and beliefs really made an impression.

“There was a curiosity she had that seemed really strong,” she said. “She was interested in finding out about other people.”

Ganglghassemlouei said Adam was also very willing to talk about being a Muslim woman in the United States.

“She was very strong in her identity,” she said. “There was a very traditional core there, but also a sense of wanting to take it all in while she was here.”

Friends said Adam got the group interested in different outdoor activities such as hiking, camping and fishing. The group had planned a camping trip the weekend of the accident.

Geology sophomore and friend of Adam, Liza Tukimin, said she remembers Adam’s determination.

“Even though her life was short, she lived her life to the fullest,” Tukimin said. “Everything seems so coincidental. She managed to do everything.”