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California student killed in Paris attacks receives degree posthumously

Beatriz Gonzalez is surrounded by photos of her daughter, Nohemi, who was killed in the November terrorist attacks in Paris.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Nohemi Gonzalez’s mother was filled with pride Thursday morning: Her daughter was receiving her bachelor’s degree from Cal State Long Beach.

Unlike most other parents in attendance, however, Beatriz Gonzalez accepted the honor on behalf of her daughter, who was killed in the Paris terror attacks last year.

The 23-year-old had worked hard, finishing high school with honors and moving on to Cal State Long Beach, where she studied industrial design. She was the only one of Beatriz’s three children to attend a university.

In the Department of Design, Nohemi worked as a teaching assistant and shop technician. In 2015, she led an all-female team to a second-place finish in the Biomimicry Global Design Challenge, according to the university.

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She had been in a semester-abroad program at Strate School of Design when she was killed at a Paris bistro on Nov. 13. She was one of 130 people — the only American — killed in the bombing and shooting rampage.

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At the commencement, where parents snapped photos and cheered for the graduates, the crowd fell quiet as Cyrus Parker-Jeannette, dean of the College of the Arts, talked about the terror attacks that had hit so close to home.

“We lost one of our beautiful and talented students,” she said. “Nohemi Gonzalez was a bright light among very bright students of our design department.”

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The dean noted that Nohemi’s “dedication, lively sense of humor and remarkable talent” were recognized earlier this month, when she was named the outstanding graduate for the college.

Nohemi’s name was the first one called at the commencement. Her mother, and her mother’s boyfriend, Jose Hernandez, made their way to the stage, where they accepted her degree posthumously.

The dean hugged Beatriz, as the graduates stood and clapped.

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brittny.mejia@latimes.com

Follow me @brittny_mejia on Twitter


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