The brother of the Fresno State student who died last week told her friends during a vigil Thursday to cherish their loved ones.
“Life is too short, too precious, too delicate. One day we’re fine and the next we might not even be here,” Rodrigo Alcantar said speaking about his sister, Ana Alcantar. “Let’s just take our time and talk to our parents, talk to our family, our friends, and never hold any grudges.”
In a sea of candlelight, Ana Alcantar, 21, was remembered and celebrated by her friends, family and colleagues one week after her death on Jan. 17. She had been studying business administration and communications at Fresno State.
A spokesman from the Fresno County Sheriff’s Office said Alcantar’s death was ruled a suicide. Fresno State’s Office for Student Affairs announced Alcantar’s death last Friday in an email to the campus community. A representative from the university’s counseling center was on hand and offered services to students wishing to cope with the loss.
Thursday’s vigil in the university’s Free Speech Area was an opportunity for the Fresno State community to share their fondest memories of Alcantar and the impact she had on their lives.
Tears were shed by Alcantar’s best friend Anyssa Molina, who considered Alcantar like a sister, she said. They had been roommates since starting college in 2014.
“At this point, there is a hole in my heart where she laid, and all I can do now is fill that hole with memories that she had,” Molina said with tears streaming down her face.
Molina shared memories of her dance activities with Alcantar, their times eating ice cream to cope with “boy problems” and when they drank orange juice out of wine glasses to feel “fancy.”
Those memories brought brief moments of laughter from Molina and those who gathered to honor Alcantar.
Alcantar’s colleagues at the university commended her infectious personality and work ethic during her time with the Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), the Jan and Bud Richter Center for Community Engagement and the Hispanic Business Student Association (HBSA), where Alcantar had been vice president last fall.
“Ana [Alcantar] had a strong passion for serving students. She had a strong passion for helping her fellow EOPs. She was a true EOP student leader,” said John Lor, assistant director of the EOP program. “She had inspired many to become EOP peer mentors, to become leaders like herself.”
Diana Trujillo, HBSA president, shared Alcantar’s love for animals when she told the story about a dog the two had brought home one day when they were working on a project. Alcantar poured her love onto the dog. Trujillo will never forget, she said.
“Just seeing the tenderness, her excitement and how loving she was – I will always remember that,” Trujillo said.
Alcantar’s smile was described as radiant and was a constant reminder to those who gathered throughout the night.
Fresno State President Dr. Joseph Castro shared his support to students grieving Alcantar’s loss and said Alcantar’s legacy should be carried on by those who knew her.
“Each and every one of you are precious to us,” Castro said. “We must take this energy from tonight and learning about all the things that Ana did here on our campus, and use that energy in the coming days, and weeks, and months, and years.”
In the spirit of Alcantar’s constant service to others, the attention during the vigil was turned to those who were there to honor her.
Dr. Victor Olivares, career counselor and internship developer for the Career Development Center, said he wants those struggling to process Alcantar’s death to seek help. He spoke about the time when his own mother died when he was 19 and in college. Counseling helped him get through the tragedy, he said.
“Talk about this. Don’t be like me and get lost and have your grades drop and do some things that are unhealthy. Then you can move forward and embrace Ana fully,” Olivares said. “[Alcantar] does not want you crying, she does not want that whatsoever.”
The vigil ended with a 17-minute slideshow of Alcantar’s friendships, merits and dance performances.
Alcantar’s funeral services are scheduled starting Jan. 31, when visitation will be open at the Myers Funeral Services and Crematory Chapel in Porterville from 3 to 7 p.m.
Mass is scheduled for 11 a.m. on Feb. 1 at Holy Cross Church in Porterville. She will be laid to rest at St. Anne’s Cemetery after her church service.
- If you or someone you know is in a crisis situation, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
- For counseling services, visit the Fresno State Student Health and Counseling Center, located at the corner of Barton and Keats avenue on campus. Contact the center at 559-278-2734. Hours are from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Services are limited between noon and 1 p.m.