Minal Hiralal Panchal

Minal Panchal, 26, a first-year graduate student in building sciences, wanted to be an architect like her father, who died four years ago.

She was very keen to go to the United States for postgraduate studies and thrilled when she gained admission last year, said Chetna Parekh, a friend who lives in the Mumbai neighborhood of Borivali, India, where Panchal lived before coming to Virginia Tech.

"She was a brilliant student and very hardworking. She was focused on getting her degree and doing well."

Panchal was worried about her mother, Hansa, living alone and wanted her to come to the U.S., neighbor Jayshree Ajmane said. Hansa left earlier this month for New Jersey, where her sister and brother-in-law live.

Ajmane called Panchal a bright, polite girl who would help the neighborhood children with their schoolwork.


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