The Civil Engineering Department at WKU is set to unveil a plaque tonight in honor of Anna Zhidkova, an engineering student from Russia, who died October 14, just five months after graduating from the university.
Zhidkova, who was also a pole-vaulter on the WKU track team had enrolled in graduate school at the University of Kentucky and left for Lexington the day after graduating from Western. In August she was diagnosed with cancer.
Her parents will attend tonight’s ceremony in the Civil Engineering Student Resource Room.
One of Anna’s professors, Warren Campbell, was inspired by her positivity. He and his wife visited Zhidkova in her hospital room in Lexington.
“Anna had a tumor on her spine that paralyzed her from the waist down and she was lying on her back in the bed and showing her father how to fly a little radio-controlled helicopter and she was just as cheerful as she was when she was here [at WKU],” said Campbell. “I don’t know where that kind of courage comes from.”
Campbell says he and his wife welcomed Anna to their house on holidays when she couldn’t make it back to Moscow. He says she was very adept at balancing her school work and athletics.
“She didn’t sleep. I was told that she slept about three hours a night,” said Campbell. “She had all kinds of energy.”
Campbell says Zhidkova, who graduated magna cum laude, was inspirational to both students and faculty.
“She always smiled and I don’t think I ever saw her angry. She was humble even though her academic accomplishments would justify some arrogance, but she wasn’t like that,” said Campbell.