Vigil Honors Nohemi Gonzalez, American Student Killed In Paris Attacks

"Nohemi's senseless murder is our worst nightmare."

At a Sunday afternoon vigil for Nohemi Gonzalez, a design student from California who was killed in the Paris attacks, mourners remembered the 23-year-old as vibrant and full of promise.

The event at California State University at Long Beach, which Gonzalez had attended, brought students, friends, family and faculty together to honor the El Monte, Calif., native and first-generation American. Gonzalez, who had been studying abroad at the Strate School of Design in Sèvres, France, since September, was fatally shot by terrorists after stepping outside a restaurant, fellow exchange student Andrew Calder told The Daily Beast. 

"Nohemi's senseless murder is our worst nightmare," CSULB President Jane Close Conoley said at the vigil. "We miss her today and we will miss her forever."

Martin Herman, director of the CSULB College of Design, remembered Gonzales as a person full of "openness and wonder."

"We are all heartbroken that such a beautiful light has been ripped away from us," Herman said. "Nohemi possessed a character that was truly rare. ... She exuded such energy and enthusiasm and infused the entire department with these qualities by virtue of her presence. And in her design work itself, she displayed imagination, passion and admirable work ethic. ... She emanated a light, a special energy that seemed to come out of every pore, from her eyes to her unforgettable smile that communicated love, acceptance, happiness, sweetness, mixed in with a little bit of zaniness."

Her longtime boyfriend, Tim Mraz, remembered the Pocahontas tattoo on Gonzalez's left arm and how she called him "her John Smith."

"She would have loved this and hated this at the same time, because she wasn't one to love all that attention," Mraz said, cracking a smile as he held back tears. 

Sunday's gathering was also intended to offer support to the 80-plus students from France currently enrolled in foreign exchange programs at CSULB and to honor all the victims of the Paris attacks, which killed at least 129 and injured another 350. Among the injured, Le Figaro reported, 80 remained in critical condition on Sunday afternoon.

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Gabriela Landazuri Saltos contributed to this report. 

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