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ASU students hold vigil for deceased student

Bernardo Ruiz cries at a memorial for his niece Jelissa on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Old Main on the Tempe campus.
Bernardo Ruiz cries at a memorial for his niece Jelissa on Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2016, at Old Main on the Tempe campus.

Donning purple glow stick bracelets and placing flowers and candles on the steps of Old Main, dozens gathered to remember Jelissa Ruiz, who died Tuesday, at a candlelight vigil held Wednesday night.

Vigil organizer Nic Parra thanked those who came to honor Ruiz's memory.

“Jelissa was always the person who smiled. She’s always the girl who walked with everybody else’s mind on hers," Parra said.

Parra then opened the floor for attendees to share the stories and memories they had of Ruiz.

Ruiz's uncle, Bernado Ruiz, thanked those who came for their support.

“From the bottom of my heart I want to thank each and everyone of you to do this for Jelissa," he said. "I really appreciate this. She meant the world to me."

Post-it notes were available for attendees to write condolences or a memory for her family to read. ASU Counseling Services was also available for attendees to speak to.

Jesse Docherty, who worked with Ruiz as she facilitated El Concillo, a student organization that advocates for Latino students, said Ruiz always encouraged people.

“She always said we should strive to advocate, celebrate and educate," Docherty said. "That was her motto. I hope you all think about those three words. We always should advocate for ourselves, from whatever background you come from, always celebrate your life because we all know how short it can be."

Ruiz was a recipient of the Medallion Scholarship. Dan Turbyfill, Ruiz’s adviser in the program, said he remembered her sunny disposition and kindness. 

“The pillars of the Medallion Scholarship program are scholarship, leadership and community service," Turbyfill said. "She embodied every one of those and was such a guiding light for all of us when she was around. I want you all to remember those hugs she would give. She gave the most monster hugs when she saw you. And you felt it. You felt it with her whole body that she loved you.”

If you or someone you know is looking for emotional support, counseling services can be reached by appointment.

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