Hundreds gather at Cal State Long Beach for vigil for Nohemi Gonzalez

Flowers and photos are left at a makeshift memorial for Nohemi Gonzalez outside of the design building at Cal State Long Beach.

Flowers and photos are left at a makeshift memorial for Nohemi Gonzalez outside of the design building at Cal State Long Beach.

(Christina House / For The Times)

Hundreds gathered for a vigil at Cal State Long Beach on Sunday afternoon to honor the memory of 23-year-old senior Nohemi Gonzalez, who was among those killed in the terrorist attacks in Paris.

A standing-room only crowd including students, faculty and family members packed the ballroom inside the University Student Union for the vigil, which began at 4 p.m. The crowd was so large that it spilled out into the lobby area.

Gonzalez was studying at the Strate College of Design in Paris as part of a semester-abroad program. She was at a bistro Friday night with three friends when gunmen opened fire from a passing vehicle.


Her friends managed to escape, but Gonzalez was wounded and later died of her injuries at a hospital, said Jeet Joshee, associate vice president for international education at the university.

Friends and family described Gonzalez as a diligent and committed worker with lofty dreams, including studying abroad in Paris.

She worked as a teaching assistant at Cal State Long Beach and as a shop technician, overseeing lower-division students on their design projects.

“She was a warrior, she fought for her dreams,” said student Alysia Elnagar, who took a basic design class in which Gonzalez served as an assistant.

“Even as a freshman, she exhibited leadership. She owned the stage whenever she presented,” recalled David Lee, design instructor who taught Gonzalez in foundation drawing and advanced drawing classes. “Her magic and beauty was so effortless.”

Gonzalez was one of 19 people killed at the popular bistro La Belle Equipe. Nine others were critically wounded.


In addition to the 129 killed in the coordinated attacks in Paris, more than 350 were injured, many of them critically.

Sunday’s vigil was also expected to recognize the more than 80 students from France who are enrolled at Cal State Long Beach in foreign-exchange programs.

Student body President Jose Salazar, Vice President Miriam Hernandez and Treasurer Wendy Lewis said in a statement that the campus is in mourning.

“Though we did not know Nohemi personally, we know the spirit of CSULB students and we know it is a resilient one,” according to the statement. “The students at Cal State Long Beach stand with all of our students studying abroad trying to mourn this terrible tragedy.”

Times staff writers Thomas Curwen, Soumya Karlamangla and Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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