BOSTON (AP) — Less than 24 hours before she died, Lu Lingzi sent an exuberant email to a professor after learning she had passed part of a major final exam.
"I am so happy to get this result!" she wrote. "Thank you very much."
Lu was killed Monday in the Boston Marathon explosions, according to a statement from Boston University. She was a graduate student studying mathematics and statistics and scheduled to receive her graduate degree in 2015.
Lu was at the finish line of the race with two friends from BU. One, Danling Zhou, had surgeries Monday and Tuesday and is in stable condition at Boston Medical Center, the university's statement said. The other was unharmed.
Chinese students gathered in front of the campus chapel Wednesday evening with posters and photographs of Lu to honor her life. As they rolled out a long sheet of white paper on a table, students wandered over off the sidewalk and began writing messages of condolence in both Chinese and English. Another memorial gathering was planned for Thursday evening at a campus arena.
Lili Gu, 22, who is from Shanghai, said a group of about a dozen students went from hospital to hospital, searching for Lu, until they were informed that she had died.
"I was shocked last night as I heard the update," Gu said. "I mean, we were all searching. And we all had our hope on."
On Monday morning, Lu had put the finishing touches on a group research project she was planning to present at a statistics conference. She also posted a photo of the breakfast — bread chunks and fruit — she ate the morning she died.
"My wonderful breakfast," she wrote.
Lu was a vivacious chatterbox who had lots of friends on campus, said Tasso Kaper, chair of the mathematics and statistics department, whose face lit up talking about his former student.
"The word bubbly — that's kind of a corny word — but that describes her very well," Kaper said.
Lu loved the springtime and kept asking when the trees would bloom in Boston.
"She was very interested in the flowers," he said. "Spring is a very important time of year for her."
Yijiang Lu, a 21-year-old student from Shanghai, said the Chinese student community was banding together to support Lu's friends and family.
"We all are far away from home. We are international students, we are Chinese," she said. "Here we are the family. We have to do something for the girl."
Lu, 23, often shared photos of her home-prepared meals online, including a blueberry-covered waffle. They were almost always served in a shallow, blue-patterned bowl.
She was described as an exceptional student and bright young scientist at Boston University, where she had been enrolled for about a year and had one course left to complete before graduating. She already was searching for a summer internship with her adviser.
There was a small, private gathering of friends and faculty at the math department early Wednesday to "begin the long grieving process," Kaper said, adding that "many of them are still in shock and disbelief."
She had graduated last year from the Beijing Institute of Technology, where she once got a perfect score on a differential equations exam. Her LinkedIn profile said she was awarded "excellent student" at the school and that she held jobs or internships at the Beijing offices of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu consultancy and at Dongxing Securities Co. during her undergraduate years. She also spent a semester at the University of California, Riverside.
Chinese state media said Lu was from the northeastern city of Shenyang.
News of her death drew an outpouring of condolences on Chinese-language blogs, with her Sina Weibo account drawing nearly 25,000 comments as of early Thursday. Her former neighbor in Shenyang, Zhang Xinbo, lamented how the news brought home the tragedy of what he considered a faraway event.
"I saw her grow up, and a few scenes from the past are flashing through my mind. Now, she's becoming a girl, a bit Westernized, but a loud bang has changed everything," he wrote in a blog. "I think of her loved ones, and I don't know how they are coping with this painful news, while still searching for any thread of hope."
Many comments reflect a growing awareness that the burgeoning number of Chinese students and elsewhere in recent years has opened them up to dangers ranging from mundane street crime to terrorist attacks.
"Nearly 12 years after Sept. 11, more and more people have realized terrorists are the global enemy. They not only attack Americans but also Chinese, regardless of nationality or race," the well-known blogger and author Li Chengpeng wrote.
Tang reported from Beijing.
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