San Antonio Uniformed Services Health Education Consortium

Raiqua S. Arastu, MD

(October 3, 1950 – December 10, 2019)


Thirty-six years ago, an Indian immigrant was applying for a fellowship in the top Allergy-Immunology program in the nation at Wilford Hall Medical Center. Following the interview, a nurse revealed to the interviewee as she exited, “Honey, it was good of you to apply, but you’re not going to get this position.”

Shocked, the young doctor asked why, and was told that there had never before been a female nor foreigner in the program.

Incensed and motivated, the 33-year-old physician returned to Omaha, Nebraska and told her husband that she was qualified and had the experience to succeed in the program. She persisted and repeatedly called Dr. Robert Jacobs, the chairman who conducted the interview. Ultimately, she became the first woman accepted into this Air Force Fellowship. She broke the barrier and set the bar; today the program is dominated by women.

That immigrant was Ret. USAF Lt. Col. and Flight Surgeon Raiqua S. Arastu, M.D., who died suddenly of causes yet unknown on Dec. 10, 2019.

Dr. Arastu practiced in San Antonio for approximately 35 years.