Nohemi Gonzalez's elementary school teacher wants to remember her as "young and carefree," she tells People

November 17, 2015 09:40 PM

As Nohemi Gonzalez’s family and friends continue to grieve the loss of the “generous and talented” industrial design student, they are also choosing to focus on her bright spirit.

“I was blessed to have her as one of my ‘kids,'” her second-grade teacher Jennifer Caccamise Bay tells PEOPLE exclusively. “She was a caring, shy, well-liked child. She worked hard to learn whatever came her way.”

Bay taught Gonzalez at Mill Elementary School in Whittier, Calif., and remembers her as “a bright star. I can still see her smiling in my class,” she says. “That is how I choose to remember her – young and carefree.”

Bay recently reconnected with Gonzalez, 23, over Facebook and was excited to see all that she had accomplished in her young life, including her study-abroad program in France.

“I was beyond excited for her adventure in Paris and was completely devastated when I heard the news of the passing through this tragedy,” says Bay.

Gonzalez was a junior at California State University, Long Beach and was participating in an exchange program in Paris at the Strate College of Design.

She was abroad with 16 other students (who have all reported that they are safe) from CSULB when terror struck on Friday night with suicide bombers and shooters attacking local restaurants, the Stade de France and the Bataclan Concert Hall.

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