LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) – People gathered on the UNLV campus Wednesday to pay respects and honor three professors killed there on December 6.

Dr. Jerry Cha-Jan Chang was a professor in the Department of Management, Entrepreneurship and Technology in UNLV’s Lee Business School. Dr. Patricia Navarro Velez was an assistant professor in the Department of Accounting in UNLV’s Lee Business School. And Dr. Naoko Takemaru was an associate professor of Japanese Studies in UNLV’s Department of World Languages and Cultures in the College of Liberal Arts.

A friend and colleague of Patricia Navarro Velez said “Pat” was a proud Puerto Rican.

“She loved to cook, cooking from scratch. She loved baking. She loved dancing. She loved singing. She had a beautiful voice. Her smile and energy were contagious. She was brilliant. She was kind,” said Gloribert Roque-Melendez.

“We will miss you, Dr. Patricia Pat Navarro. Rest in peace,” said UNLV graduate Johnny Trujillo.

Ashley Weckesser is a graduate student and former student of Dr. Jerry Chang. She said Dr. Chang left an indelible mark on her heart and mind as she started her master’s program.

“As a graduate assistant in his department seeking direction, I knew I could always count on his office door being open and on him being there. He was always there and always willing to help us,” said Weckesser.

She added, “His dedication to sparking our curiosity as students and supporting our individual journeys as spouses and parents, helped make our transformation from sleep-deprived graduate students to industry professionals possible.”

UNLV Graduate Devon Whitaker called Dr. Naoko Takemaru an amazing person who had a smile that would light up an entire room.

“Just that positive energy in and of itself made me want to be a better student and a better person,” said Whitaker.

Whitaker added, “She also had an open-door policy. At any given time of the day, you could go to her office about any issue, not just with academia but with any issue at all, and she would do her very best to help you through it. Like she did with me when I lost my nephew in a tragic car crash in 2012.”

UNLV President Keith Whitfield concluded the memorial service by saying in the days, weeks and months to come, people will need to continue being there for each other. He also said the university, community and people cannot be defined by an unspeakable act of violence.

“Please, each one of you remember, we are strong. We are resilient. And we are UNLV,” said President Whitfield.


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