On Oct. 10, a vigil was held at the Santos Manuel Student Union Event Center to honor the life of 21-year-old Jordyn Rivera, one of the victims of the Route 91 Harvest music festival shooting in Las Vegas–the most deadly mass shooting in American history.
Rivera was a fourth-year student at CSUSB in the health care management program and also a member of Eta Sigma Gamma, the national health education honor society. An estimated 400 faculty members, staff, friends, and family attended the vigil to honor her memory.
Vice President for Student Affairs Dr. Brian Haynes presided over the vigil, introducing many guest speakers to speak on behalf of Rivera and the impact she made on their lives.
The first speaker was university President Tomás D. Morales, who got to know Rivera when she participated in a summer abroad program in London last summer. Morales emphasized the joy and optimism she expressed in all that she did, and that although tragedy has struck, those in attendance should find the strength to be thankful Rivera touched their lives.
The next speaker was Pastor Dustin Harrison, a youth minister at Calvary Chapel in Chino Valley. As Rivera’s youth minister, Harrison marveled at the amount of faith and hope she possessed, and advised attendees to find peace in knowing she is in a better place.
“If Jordyn were to speak to us tonight, she would say, ‘You need to have that hope I had. Because everything I looked forward to I get to enjoy right now. Because when we say rest in peace, I am resting in the presence of God,'” stated Harrison.
Other guest speakers who got to share their memories of Rivera were those who were involved with her in Eta Sigma Gamma, like former president Hannah Lewis, who shared a Bible verse that reminded her of the fallen student: For we walk by faith, not by sight- 2 Corinthians 5:7 KJV.
Another fellow Eta Sigma Gamma member, James Eckholdt, shared how Rivera was like family and helped him through his times of struggle and hardship.
“I was working two jobs and I was wondering day by day, ‘how will I be able to afford this? How will I pay rent?’ And Jordyn was always there to comfort me. To tell me, ‘you realize it’s in God’s hands,'” Eckholdt said through tears. “… She was a very faithful person… and that’s how we all have to live our lives. Even if it’s not through God, just live for something.”
Lupita Vasquez, who attended the summer abroad program to London with Rivera, expressed her sadness over the loss of such a caring person.
“[Jordyn] was a real-life angel and she didn’t need a halo or wings to prove it. We have lost a beautiful person way too soon and I hope she is watching over us wherever she is,” said Vasquez.
Rivera’s parents, Albert and Mary, also shared their words with those gathered in the auditorium, reminiscing about how Jordyn believed that she was living a full and happy life. The two expressed their gratitude for the support of the CSUSB community and encouraged all vigil attendees to approach them to share their condolences.
“Don’t be a stranger… Every time we hug you, we’re hugging her,” urged Albert Rivera.
After the vigil was over, the crowd was invited to step outside near the back of the John M. Pfau Library to release balloons as one last parting farewell to honor Rivera. 104 lavender balloons were released into the sky, followed by a moment of silence as bells chimed in the distance to echo the lasting memory of an honorable person.