Eastern Michigan University honors alum killed in Texas mall shooting

Eastern Michigan University is remembering and honoring a recent graduate who was killed at a Texas mall over the weekend.

Aishwarya Thatikonda, 27, was working as a project engineer for a Texas-based construction firm and preparing to celebrate her 28th birthday. She decided to go to the mall with friends and was killed by a gunman who also killed seven other people.

"She was going to turn 28 next Thursday, and she was going to get married in October. It's heartbreaking, that's all I can say," said Esther Gunel, with EMU. 

Thatikonda earned a Master of Science in construction management from EMU.

"She came to EMU for the master's degree program. We worked with her during her entire program of study," Gunel said. "It's just hard being an educator. They’re almost like my children. It's just very hard to comprehend."

Despite being graduated, Thatikonda still had official ties to the Ypsilanti university.

"She’s still on our STEM OTP roster which means she’s off working, but she's still connected to the university, so we felt even more connected to her loss. Although it’s always a horrible loss when we lose any of our alums, through something this tragic, this senseless. I think it makes it even more painful," said EMU President James Smith.

The Indian Student Association and International Student Association were among those who hosted Wednesday’s event to honor Thatikonda.

"Definitely very saddening, and we just thought it was our responsibility to honor her," student Stuti Goel said.