Last Wednesday, SF State alumna Jennifer Mendiola was officially named as a victim of the deadly Oakland Ghost Ship fire.
Two other SF State victims had been identified days before, Michela Gregory and Donna Kellogg.
“The entire campus community expresses its profound sadness at the news that San Francisco State alumna, Jennifer Mendiola, perished in the tragic Oakland warehouse fire on December 2,” Director of News and New Media Mary Kenny said in an email.
“Our heartfelt condolences go out to her family and loved ones, and to the families and loved ones of other members of our community who were lost through this tragedy: Michela Gregory, who was enrolled in the Graduate College of Education, and Donna Kellogg. We continue to keep the families affected by this terrible catastrophe in our thoughts and prayers.”
Mendiola, 35, was considered missing until Dec. 7, when the Coroner’s Office reached out to her family confirming she is one of the victims, according to ABC30 News.
Mendiola was a scholarly student. She completed her undergraduate studies at SF State in 2003, earned her master’s in psychology at Cal State University Sacramento and was pursuing her doctorates at the University of California Merced. or UC Merced.
“It’s just horrifying,” Mendiola’s sister-in-law Anna told SF Gate. “She was almost finished. She had all her coursework done. You can’t even imagine how tirelessly she worked.”
UC Merced Chancellor Dorothy Leland sent out a campus-wide statement to deliver the tragic news of the loss of one of their graduate students, sharing what colleagues at the campus thought about her and what she was like.
“Colleagues have described Jennifer as a passionate and determined scientist, with an inquisitive mind and a collaborative spirit,” Leland said in the statement. “She was a fifth-year health psychology graduate student in the School of Social Sciences, Humanities and Arts, studying factors that influence risk behaviors and poor health, including one’s close relationships and emotional experiences.”
Mendiola had two empirical papers published, one in Preventive Medicine Reports as first author, and another in the Journal of Behavioral Medicine. Last year she co-authored an op-ed in the Los Angeles Times about the risks confronting Latinos who are reluctant to get flu shots. She was also a finalist in the 2015 and 2016 University of California GradSLAM! competitions, and was in the process of finalizing her dissertation proposal for defense in January, according to the statement by Leland.
A moment of silence for Mendiola was held on Monday on the UC Merced campus in front of the Leo and Dottie Kolligian Library, according to ABC30 News.
CSU Sacramento also followed up with a statement by their new Assistant Director Craig Koscho.
“We are sad to share the news that Sacramento State alumna Jennifer Mendiola was among those who died in the Oakland warehouse fire,” Koscho said in an email. “On behalf of the Hornet Family, our hearts go out to all her loved ones”