credit: Feature Image Credit: Nohemi Gonzalez / Facebook

First American Victim Identified in Paris Attacks Was A Proud First-Generation Mexican-American

Nohemi Gonzalez was eating dinner with friends at La Belle Equipe in Paris, France when armed terrorists shot indiscriminately into the restaurant, killing 19 people. The attack on La Belle Equipe was just one part of the six-piece coordinated terror attack that devastated the French capital from the Stade de France just north of the city to a concert in the heart of Paris. Nohemi Gonzalez was one of the 129 victims who died that night and the news stunned her family and her community. She was just 23 years old.

Nohemi was a proud Latina trying to make a future for herself.

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Credit: Nohemi Gonzalez / Facebook

“I am Mexican American,” Nohemi wrote on a class assignment she did before studying in Paris. “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.”

Nohemi Gonzalez was proud to be a first-generation Mexican-American going to college.

We will miss you #nohemigonzalez

A video posted by Matt Grant (@mladx) on

Gonzalez was a student at California State University, Long Beach. “When life is dragging you back with difficulties, it means it’s going to launch you into something great,” Nohemi wrote in her assignment. “So just focus and keep aiming.”

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Nohemi was in Paris studying industrial design with 17 other foreign exchange students when the attacks happened.

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Credit: Nohemi Gonzalez / Facebook

Gonzalez was studying abroad at Strate, École de Design à Sèvres et Paris.

Her parents want her remembered as a Latina who was chasing her dreams and succeeding.

Nohemi’s mother told Univision‘s Primer Impacto that her daughter wanted to be known “as a Latina who strived to get ahead and she succeeded with a lot of her dreams.”

Members of the Long Beach community, including mayor Robert Garcia, are still coming to terms with Nohemi’s sudden death.

Hundreds attended a vigil in honor of Nohemi at CSU Long Beach.

“A beautiful girl so full of energy and life,” one of her friends said via Instagram. “My deepest condolences to Nohemi’s family, friends, and all those who knew her. Rest in Peace.”

READ: Afro-Cuban Electro via Paris

Those who spoke at the vigil remembered her commitment and passion to the things and people she loved.

It was certainly a hard pill to swallow. Thinking about how just a year I was in your shoes. Nohemi you were a little tiggres who was one of the hardest working ppl I've met. Since you were always in the shop it was great to have you as company! You'd let me take tools from the shop without signing in (shhh) and would give me some good tips for whenever I needed design help. I'll never forget how cheery you were, and how fun it was to hangout with you once at that party. Seeing how our design family grouped up just for you showed me and a lot of people how much of a special person you are. 100s of ppl came to see you and I know you were watching from the heavens. Say hi to the real Pocahontas for me, and you will always be remembered… My favorite TA Nohemi. #paris #prayforparis #prayfornohemi #sad #life #rip #loveyou #nohemigonzalez #csulb

A photo posted by Null (@chiiwolff) on

“She’ll always be with us. She’ll still be roaming these halls, like she always does,” her boyfriend of four years Tim Mraz said. “You’re always in my heart. I love you, baby.”

“What I saw in her was a beautiful soul who practiced goodness and compassion in her friendships and relationships with others,” CSULB Department of Design chairman Martin Herman, told the crowd of mourners.

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Credit: Nohemi Gonzalez / Facebook

Friends have started a Donation To page to help raise money for her funeral costs. Her body will be staying in Paris for three weeks as the investigation into the attacks continue.

Watch an interview with her mother and stepfather below:

Share this story so Nohemi Gonzalez can be remembered as the strong and dedicated Latina her friends and family knew her to be.

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