California State University students in Long Beach and San Francisco gathered Tuesday night to remember a 23-year-old Southern California college student killed in the Paris terror attacks.
The candlelight vigil for Nohemi Gonzalez, a senior from El Monte majoring in industrial design at Cal State Long Beach, took place on the front lawn at Whittier High School, her former high school. Another vigil was held at San Francisco State University.
"Nohemi was special in so many ways and an example in so many ways for students today to be self-supporting, self-motivated, to think differently, to pursue her goals and her dreams is something that is relevant, important and can inspire other people," he said.
Gonzalez was one of 129 people killed in Friday's attacks. She was killed while having dinner with friends at a popular bistro, La Belle Equipe, in one of a series of bomb and gun attacks. She was one of 17 CSULB students attending a college of design in Paris as part of a semester abroad program.
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Gonzalez graduated from the high school about 10 miles southeast of downtown Los Angeles in 2010. Gonzalez was remembered by mourners at a vigil Sunday in the CSULB ballroom as a "little firecracker" whose creativity and spirit touched everyone she met.
"She was so excited to be in Paris," said Martin Herman, the chair of the university's design department. "May Nohemi’s voice, bright spirit, playfulness, ideals and hope continue to inspire and illuminate the department of design, her university family and all those she touched during her all too short time with us."
About 500 people gathered at the CSULB event, including University President Jane Close Conoley, who told mourners that her death was "an assault on our hearts."
"We miss her today and we'll miss her forever," Conoley said.
Jonathan Lloyd and Jean Elle contributed to this report.