By Jeff Sutton
While attending HBU has become a family affair, for freshman Noor Abukishk, it wasn’t always a foregone conclusion.
Noor, a member of the HBU women’s soccer team, was born in the U.S., but spent the majority of her youth abroad. Growing up, she knew that she wanted to return to the states for college, and it was when she started thinking about where to go that she started to learn more about her father’s collegiate experiences.
Waleed Abukishk ’88, MS ’92, Noor’s father, played soccer at HBU from 1984- 1987. During that time, he established himself as one of the best soccer players to ever set foot on campus. Waleed’s name dots the HBU record books, and he is still second in school history in career goals (36), assists (21) and points (93).
Noor recalls being dismissive of her father’s achievements, chalking it up to fatherly boasting. “You know when your dad tells you stuff, but you just kind of wave it off?” she asked. But, Noor continued on, saying “I started leaning toward HBU, thinking it would be really neat if I went to the same school as my father. Then we were here on campus for a visit and he took me to the Walk of Fame where I saw his name and I thought, ‘Wow, this is real.’ I was shocked and also so proud of him.”
Houston is more than 7,000 miles from Cairo, Egypt, where Noor went to high school and called home, but group chats allow Noor to stay in constant contact with her family. She refers to her dad as her “motivator abroad,” and speaks specifically of their close relationship. “My dad told me about his time here and he said, ‘Noor, it was the best time in my life,’ and I look up to my dad, so whenever he says something I take it to heart.” She also adds, with a bright smile, “I’m daddy’s soccer girl.”
In addition to her father, two of Noor’s aunts and two of her cousins attended HBU. She cites the smaller class sizes and campus community as something that drew her to HBU, comparing it to nearby Texas A&M where her brother, Mohammad, is a senior. Noor admits the move back to the U.S. was “nerve-racking,” as she thought about the cultural differences she would experience after living abroad for 14 years.
Those cultural differences exist, certainly, but Noor has a built-in support system in her soccer teammates and coaches. “The team has really, really helped. They’re super friendly and it’s good to know that they understand there are differences. I was really happy when I heard, ‘Not only are you adapting to us, but we’re adapting to you.’ It goes both ways and people on campus are super friendly. It’s easy to approach people for help.”
As she works toward a degree in marketing and strives for Southland Conference championships on the soccer field, Noor will always have that brick that reads “WALLY ABUKISHK ’89, MS ’92,” as a reminder of her dad and motivation as she carries on his legacy at HBU.
Interested in HBU’s athletic teams? Learn more at: HBUhuskies.com/