If you were on campus prior to classes going online, you may have seen Esmaa Elgarguri traveling around campus on her yellow skateboard. She would not be hard to spot as there are not many other Hijab wearing women on skateboards at LPC.
Elgarguri is a second year student majoring in psychology. She started taking classes at Las Positas College when she was 15 years old. She was elected as Student Government Vice President in spring 2020 for a one year term. She plans to graduate in the spring 2021 and transfer to a four year school.
In a Zoom call with Elgarguri, you will see in the background, a skateboard, many plants, a ukulele and drawers full of art supplies — , all her passions. When on campus at LPC prior to the pandemic when not in classes or at the Student Life office you would most likely find her in the 4000 building hanging around other artists, theater majors and musicians.
All her life, Elgarguri has been a high achiever. She got a work permit at age 13 so that she could work at the local library as the assistant to the events coordinator. In this role she helped with events for girls in the area of STEM, writing, art and other subjects. As she knows some coding in HTML and Java, she was helpful in getting the girls interested in computers.
At age 16 she graduated from the California Virtual Academy where most of the classes were conducted online, a system students at LPC , because of COVID-19, are familiar. Elgarguri started full time at LPC soon after graduating from high school, and she will graduate from LPC at her current age 18. During her tenure at LPC, she has completed five honors project making her an Honors Scholar.
In here Student Government candidate statement, Elgarguri said, “I would like to be able to make our experience at school more alive. I want to introduce new ideas and assist in creating an atmosphere where everyone is comfortable with each other. I want to attempt to make our college of strangers feel less strange, because each student deserves to be recognized.” In her role as Vice President of Student Government, she interacts with the other officers and senators, a role she enjoys. Elgarguri also enjoys helping and mentoring fellow students.
Elgarguri is a Muslim. She proudly wears the Hijab as she said it empowers her. Most of her professors and other students have been very supportive of her religion. She said Jim Ott, English, an English professor, and Lucas Hasten, an anthropology professor, as very supportive of her.
Elagargaris said it feels very safe and supported on campus. She has experienced no major incidents of harassment. She did have three incidents where a male followed her walking around campus, but when she met up with some friends, he left. The person never spoke to her.
Off campus is a different story. After the recent presidential election, she was harassed in downtown Tracy. One person told her to go back to where she came from, which in her case would be Corvallis, Oregon where she was born. To stop the harassment that day, she hid in a store until the harassers left the area.
She also left her job at the Tracy library when she was harassed by some of the patrons for being a Muslim. Elgarguri said that in addition to the Hajib, her mother wears a veil covering her face. She receives more harassing comments than Elgarguri does with just the Hajib. In the COVID-19 era when she wears the mask, it leaves her open to more harassment as her identity is also covered.
Elgarguri is a very open person and enjoys being around other people. She has many friends at LPC, which she considers odd since she attended high school online which is mostly a solo activity. She is happy to answer any questions about being a Muslim and the religion, questions beyond “Are you forced to wear the Hajib? Why do you wear the Hijab? Why do you dress so conservatively?”
Since Elgarguri will graduate at the end of the spring term, it is unlikely you will get to see her riding her skateboard around campus with classes online.
Alan Lewis is the photo editor of The Express. Follow him @alolewis1.