Students gathered in solidarity on Sunday at California State University, Long Beach to honor the life of senior design major Nohemi Gonzalez who was killed in the deadly Paris terrorist attacks on Friday. Gonzalez was one of at least 129 people killed in the attacks and the Long Beach community united together in a candlelight vigil to celebrate her life and time at the university.
Gonzalez, 23, was studying design at CSU Long Beach and was spending a semester abroad in Paris at the Strate University of Design in Sévres, France. She was fatally shot by terrorists while outside of a restaurant in Paris with friends.
Sunday’s candlelight vigil at CSU Long Beach drew more than 2,000 of Gonzalez’ friends and family and members of the campus community to mourn the loss of her life. The vigil was held in the university’s Student Union, where administrators, family and friends spoke behind a podium with the flags of France, California and the U.S. in the background.
Tim Mraz, boyfriend of Gonzalez of almost four years, spoke emotionally at the vigil, saying Gonzalez was a “firecracker” and will always be in his heart.
In a statement, CSU Long Beach Student Body President Jose Salazar, Vice President Miriam Hernandez and Treasurer Wendy Lewis said, “Though we did not know Nohemi personally, we know the spirit of CSULB students and we know it is a resilient one. The students at Cal State Long Beach stand with all of our students studying abroad trying to mourn this terrible tragedy.”
Gonzalez, originally from El Monte, Calif., is also being honored today with a vigil at Whittier High School, where she graduated from in 2010.
Universities across the California State University have shown support for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks by flying flags at half-staff to honor victims. CSU Chancellor Timothy White recognized the tragedy in Paris and Gonzalez’ death in a statement following the attacks.
“I express outrage and share in the anguish of the rest of the civilized world regarding the horrific events that occurred Friday in Paris,” said White. “My deepest personal condolences go out to the family and friends of our Long Beach State student Nohemi Gonzalez, who was killed in the attacks, and to all those whose lives have been impacted by these senseless acts of violence.”
Sonoma State University President Ruben Armiñana also acknowledged the tragedy in Paris in an email sent out to the campus community on Saturday.
He confirmed in the email that all Sonoma State students studying abroad are “safe and unharmed”.
“Such unimaginable tragedy is hard to comprehend,” Armiñana wrote. “I offer my heartfelt sympathies to Ms. Gonzalez’ family and friends as well as those of the many other victims and am so very thankful our own students abroad are accounted for and safe.”