An American girl in Paris, remembered. This is what her mom wants the world to know.
Nohemi Gonzalez was "a Latina girl that strived to get ahead ... and who achieved many of her dreams."
Any loss of life is a tragedy. But it hurts all the more to see a young person cut down with such a promising future ahead of her.
On the evening of Nov. 13, Nohemi Gonzalez was out with three friends at La Belle Equipe, a bistro and wine bar in north-central Paris.
The 23-year-old was studying abroad in Paris as part of her bachelor's degree in industrial design at California State University, Long Beach. She was enjoying her time in the city — her first time out of the United States — and had visited historic sites like the Eiffel Tower and the Cathedral of Notre Dame, according to her mother.
"She had a lot of dreams," Jose Hernandez, a man identified as her stepfather, told the Los Angeles Times. He said that studying in Paris "was one of them."
Her life was cut short at the bistro that night.
Gunmen in a black vehicle opened fire on people sitting on the bistro's terrace, killing 19 people — including Nohemi — and critically wounding nine others, part of a horrific terrorist attack that has jarred France and people around the globe.
Her mother remembers her as someone striving for success.
Although Nohemi's mother, Beatriz Gonzalez, looked emotionally exhausted in an interview published by the Spanish-language news outlet Univision on Nov. 15, she found inspiring words to describe her daughter.
When asked how she wanted her Nohemi to be remembered, Beatriz answered, "as a Latina girl that strived to get ahead ... and who achieved many of her dreams."
Nohemi was born in the U.S., according to her mother, but her family came to California from Guanajuato, a state in central Mexico.
"I think the people who did this don't have any conscience," she told Univision. "Because of how many families they hurt."
Nohemi was proud of her immigrant heritage.
A class assignment obtained by the Los Angeles Times gives us a window into how Nohemi envisioned herself.
"I am Mexican American and I also happen to be first generation born in the United States. I grew up in Whittier and had a very hard working mother that raised me to be extremely independent. If I had to describe myself in a few words I would say I am very high spirited, clean, orderly and self driven."
Professors in the design department at Cal State Long Beach lauded her academic performance. She was "a very gifted student," Martin Herman, the department's chairman, told the Los Angeles Times.
Beyond her academic performance, she just seemed like a great person.
"Nohemi was an absolute delight," said David Teubner, a professor of design at Cal State Long Beach. "She was funny and warm and such a kind person.... She was involved in everything."
Her friends and family won't let her memory fade away.
Nohemi's fellow students and community members gathered on Nov. 15 at Cal State Long Beach for a vigil to commemorate her life.
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said she was an "exceptional young woman who worked hard and contributed greatly to [the] community."
Nohemi's cousin, Ellie Gonzalez, captured the raw emotion — and confusion — that many who knew her must be feeling now.
"This is still a really big shock. I don't believe it's real, that this happened," she said. "I'm going to miss her and I love her so much."