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Calif. College Student Killed In Paris Attacks Mourned By Friends, Relatives

Well-wishers hold up candles during Nohemi Gonzalez's memorial service on Sunday.
Chris Carlson AP
Well-wishers hold up candles during Nohemi Gonzalez's memorial service on Sunday.

Beatriz Gonzalez, mother of Nohemi Gonzalez, holds up a candle with Nohemi's step-father Jose Hernandez during a memorial service on Sunday, in Long Beach, Calif. Gonzalez was killed at restaurant in Paris on Friday night during the terrorist attacks.
Chris Carlson AP
Beatriz Gonzalez, mother of Nohemi Gonzalez, holds up a candle with Nohemi's step-father Jose Hernandez during a memorial service on Sunday, in Long Beach, Calif. Gonzalez was killed at restaurant in Paris on Friday night during the terrorist attacks.

Calif. College Student Killed In Paris Attacks Mourned By Friends, Relatives

A Southern California college student studying abroad in Paris was one of the 129 killed last Friday.

Nohemi Gonzalez was 23 years old.

Her family called her Mimi. She was left-handed and had a tattoo of Pocahantes on her left arm. At the vigil held for her at Cal State Long Beach on Sunday night, her classmates, family and faculty wore feathers in her honor as the choir sang.

It was a somber affair, but everyone who got up to speak talked about how Gonzalez was anything but.

They said she was petite and full of energy. They called her a firecracker and a rabbit — hopping around the Cal State Long Beach campus's design school eager to help anyone who needed it.

One emotional student told the crowd that she hoped Gonzalez would keep designing "badass stuff" in heaven.

Gonzalez was a senior studying Industrial Design, a first-generation college student paying her way through school with help from an on-campus job in the school's design shop.

She was the first to arrive and the last to leave, her professor Dave Tuebner says. He helped plan the department's semester abroad program to the Strate, School of Design in Paris.

"We all encouraged them to do it, we just thought it was going to be just an amazing experience," he says.

That amazing experience ended while Gonzalez was dining at a Parisian cafe on Friday night.

Three of her classmates are still in Paris, figuring out whether to stay abroad or come home.

Gonzalez's extended family sat in the front rows, laughing and crying with the hundreds in attendance. Her friends who took AP classes with her at Whittier High School came and stayed long after to reminisce.

Her mom Beatriz, an immigrant from Guanajuato, Mexico, was there, listening stoically. She didn't get up to speak. But in an interview with Univision she said in Spanish that she wanted her only daughter to be remembered as a young Latina who worked hard to get ahead. That's exactly what Gonzalez did.

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