CSUSB vigil celebrates life of student slain in Las Vegas shooting

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About 400 people gathered at Cal State San Bernardino late Tuesday afternoon for a candlelight vigil to celebrate the life of student Jordyn Rivera, who was one of 58 people killed in a mass shooting during a country music festival in Las Vegas.

Rivera, a fourth-year student in the health care management program, who also served as president of CSUSB’s Eta Sigma Gamma, the national health education honor society, was remembered during the vigil for her warmth, enthusiasm, dedication, caring personality and faith. The service was held in the university’s Santos Manuel Student Union Events Center.

“Like all of you, since that day I have been asking the same sad questions, seeking answers that may come in time, but at this moment, escape us,” said university President Tomás D. Morales, who broke down in tears during the start of his talk. “What I do know is that, rather than try to make sense of such an unconscionable act, we must find it in our hearts to be thankful that Jordyn touched our lives.”

Morales got the chance to know and spend time with Jordyn earlier this summer in London during the summer study abroad program.

“As university president, I have an affinity for all our students. Jordyn was special; you couldn’t help but believe she was going to have a positive impact on countless lives and throughout the community after she graduated,” Morales said. “As one of her faculty members has said, we will long remember her and treasure her warmth, optimism, energy and kindness.

“Whenever someone so young is taken, it is normal to mourn a life cut short and unfulfilled,” Morales said. “I personally believe it is better to recognize the blessings received during the time afforded. Judge a book's value not by its size, but rather by the story it tells.”

The president also offered condolences to Rivera’s parents, Mary and Albert, and her brother, Vincent, who were among the family members in attendance.

“We, who can only imagine your pain, pray that you draw strength and comfort from everyone here and all those reaching out to help,” Morales said. “Please accept our deepest sympathies and our hopes that you find peace during this difficult season.”

Student James Eckholdt, who is also a member of Eta Sigma Gamma, said Rivera was a sister to him. Eckholdt said she was supportive when he started at CSUSB, as he struggled to stay in school, working two jobs and wondering day by day how he could afford all the costs of going to college.

“She always was there to comfort me, to tell me, ‘You realize this is in God’s hands,’ … She loved God more than anyone I’ve ever met,” Eckholdt said. “I learned that love comes in many different ways. She brought me into a whole new understanding of love. Live for Jordyn. Love for Jordyn.

“What’s really got me through it is not only that Jordyn wouldn’t want me to be crying, but that I’m thankful for the time I was able to spend with her,” he said. “I think we all can say that. I really cherish the times that we had together.”  

Rivera’s parents thanked all for coming to the vigil. Mary Rivera said her daughter loved the university and being a student here. “She was so excited to be part of Cal State San Bernardino,” she said.

Mary Rivera, who was at the concert with her daughter, but was not injured, said that the family’s faith in God were helping them get through.

“It is the hope and promise that we will see her, and we know we will, and that has been our strength to get us through, and we thank you for all your prayers and support that we have received,” Mary Rivera said.

Albert Rivera said he looked forward to meeting and talking with those in attendance to hear about their daughter.

“We may not know all of you, but please make a point to say ‘hi’ because there’s a reason why you’re here,” Albert Rivera said. “Every time we hug you, we hug her.” 

After the vigil, the group walked outside to the lawn area next to the John M. Pfau Library where they released 104 lavender-colored balloons filled with helium as a final tribute to Jordyn Rivera.

For more information, contact the university’s Office of Strategic Communication at (909) 537-5007 and visit news.csusb.edu.

TAGS:Eta Sigma Gamma, Jordyn Rivera, College of Natural Sciences, health care management, Las Vegas, mass shooting, community, Tomás D. Morales, James Eckholdt, Mary Rivera, Albert Rivera, Vincent Rivera, Top Stories

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