Chinese student killed in bombings had followed her passion to Boston

Boston Marathon photo from CNN

Boston Marathon photo from CNN

BEIJING (CNN) — Like thousands of others, the graduate student from China crowded around the finish line at the Boston Marathon to cheer on the runners.

She had moved to the city in time for the fall semester, making friends and soaking up new experiences.

The iconic marathon was to have been one such feat for her — a chance to be a part of an annual ritual so cherished by Bostonians.

And so she went Monday to Copley Square with two friends in tow.

They were in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Two bombs went off within 12 seconds of each other near the finish line, killing three.

The graduate student was one of them.

Who she was

Her parents in Shenyang, China, wish not to have her name publicly disclosed, a request CNN is honoring.

She will remain nameless but not faceless, not forgotten.

Her photos on Facebook show her enjoying a simple student life of home-cooked meals in modest surrounding, smiles over warm cups of coffee, laughs with friends.

The day she died, she posted a picture of her breakfast to the Chinese social media website Weibo — a bowl of fruit and some bread.

“My wonderful breakfast,” she commented in English with a smiley face emoticon.

Then an explosion

After the two bombs brought the road race to an ugly halt, the graduate student’s roommate posted a message on Facebook.

“God bless the Boston community,” wrote the roommate, Li Jing, also from China.

The blasts wounded 183 others, including one of the two friends who had gone to Copley Square with the graduate student.

Li learned of that injury — but didn’t yet know her friend had died.

“I have been unable to reach her,” she wrote on her Facebook page. “Everyone is very worried. I have reported this to BU Police. If anyone knows anything, please let me know. Thanks for everyone’s help,” Li wrote.

Friends consoled Li, offered suggestions on how to find her.

“Li Jing, I am so sad for your roommate…I will pray for her and pray for your soul,” one posted on Facebook.

Death confirmed

Boston University’s president announced the graduate student’s death in an open letter published on the school’s website Tuesday and confirmed that her friend was wounded.

“Our hearts and thoughts go out to the family and friends of both victims,” wrote college President Robert Brown.

The Chinese consulate in New York also issued a statement of condolence.

Neither identified the student.

“Some news outlets are identifying the BU student who was killed,” Boston University tweeted. “Those reports are wrong. The victim’s name has not been confirmed.”

In China, the news of the graduate student’s death set off a wave of sympathy on social media sites.

By Wednesday, netizens there had added over 17,000 comments to the deceased’s last Weibo post about her breakfast.

“Wish there’s no pain in heaven! May the girl rest in peace!” WenyiqingnianHarryChen posted.

Tuesday evening, two university chaplains held a campus vigil for her and the other victims. It was followed by a “town hall-style meeting” for those who needed comfort and counseling.

The graduate student died alongside Krystle Campbell, 29, and Martin Richard who was just 8 years old.

Her friend, Zhou Danling, is on her way to recovery at a Boston hospital.

A love of math and chance

Before the bomb killed her, the graduate student from the city in northeast China had worked hard to achieve.

She won an academic scholarship to the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she received accolades for her excellent math skills.

She went on to Boston University to further that passion and was working on a master’s degree in statistics.

She would have known how slim the chances were that something like this could happen to her and her friend in a crowd of thousands cheering the runners on a sunny day.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 885 other followers