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Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism University of Southern California
Southern California

Hundreds Gather To Remember Nohemi Gonzalez At 2nd Vigil

Staff from her alma mater remember Gonzalez as kind and driven.

Full of life and boundless energy is how many described Nohemi Gonzalez. With that energy came determination and perseverance.

Gonzalez was determined to run long miles for her high school cross-country team no matter the injuries sustained. She was determined to move out of her mother’s mobile home in El Monte to attend Cal State Long Beach. She was determined to go to Paris to study abroad, even though she had never left California for that long.

Nohemi Gonzalez/Image via Strate
Nohemi Gonzalez/Image via Strate

Her perseverance served her well, as she accomplished all of the goals that she set forth. She was a senior at Cal State Long Beach pursuing a degree in industrial design when she decided to go to Paris to study abroad.

Gonzalez was in Paris last Friday night when a group of armed gunmen opened fire on a popular bistro in the 10th Arrondisement. She was killed along with 18 others at the bistro. 110 victims were killed in other parts of the city in a series of attacks.

On Tuesday evening, hundreds of family members, friends, acquaintances and complete strangers came out to remember Gonzalez at a second vigil held at her alma mater, Whittier High School, where she graduated in 2010.

“She was always very supportive and kind to everyone. She was just a great human being and she had so much life in her,” Alejandra Gonzalez (no relation), a former cross-country teammate said.

Hundred's gathered at the front entrance of Whittier High School to remember Gonzalez.
Hundred's gathered at the front entrance of Whittier High School to remember Gonzalez.

The atmosphere was particularly somber at the candlelight vigil, where teachers and friends reminisced about her dedication to cross-country, her drive for success,  and her gentle and friendly demeanor.

“We talk a lot about family here at Whittier High School. And this weekend we lost a Cardinal,” said Matt Tremper, Dean of Students at Whittier. “We have saying around here – once a Cardinal, always a Cardinal.”

Gonzalez’s mother Beatriz and stepfather Jose sat in the front row of the crowd, quietly mourning their daughter’s death. While they did not make a statement at the vigil, other family members like her aunt, Rose Ibarra, and cousins, Jackelyn Gonzalez and Mimi Padilla, were so overcome with emotion, they were barely able to speak.

“Despite the grief that we all feel so deeply, we want to focus on who Nohemi was all the joy that she brought to our lives,” said Tremper. “We will be lighting candles in her honor, symbolizing the light she brought all of us.” 

Classmates and team members from 2010 came out to remember Gonzalez.
Classmates and team members from 2010 came out to remember Gonzalez.

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