Almost two weeks to the day she passed away, family, friends and professors gathered at the dorms for a night vigil honoring the memory of Aida Magdaleno.
Aida was one of the 25 people who perished in the Chatsworth Metrolink accident. The 19-year-old was planning on graduating with a degree in sociology. She had grown up in Moorpark and after graduating from Moorpark High School, she began attending CSUN.
Johnny Ramirez, a graduate Chicano/a Studies student, organized the vigil along with Chicano Student Movement of Aztl’aacute;n (MEChA), was Aida’s mentor or ‘meantor’ as she jokingly referred to him.
He recalled a night when she called him at 1 a.m. to discuss why women are not given the credit they deserve in their part in the Chicano/a Movement.
‘I bring that story up because I don’t that many first year students who would call their mentor,’ Ramirez said.
Aida’s mother, Leticia Magdaleno, held a poster with the image of her late daughter during the procession.
‘She was very passionate about helping other people she was very special and very studious,’ Leticia said. ‘My daughter always wanted the best for us; she would tell us that when she graduated she was going to buy a house so that I could live like a queen.’
Leticia damaged her knee some time ago, and family and friends maintain that Aida would always look out for her mother, helping her get to places or buying the medicine she needed.
‘She was always taking care of me, she never wanted to leave me alone, she never wanted to see me cry and always wanted me to be happy she was an excellent daughter,’ Leticia said before the tears in her eyes began to stream down her face.
Lilia Tejeda, a childhood friend of Aida, looked back at the potential and dreams that her friend had at the altar. The altar was filled with candles some with the Virgin of Guadalupe, dozens of pictures and flowers.
‘With the life (Aida) had she was going to accomplish a lot, she wanted to help her family because with their support we were able to go to CSUN together,’ Tejeda said. ‘She taught me how to fight for a better life…She’ll be looking down on me from heaven giving me support like she always did.’
Her older sister, Gabby Magdaleno, planned on studying mathematics as a graduate student and eventually running her own business. Nevertheless, Aida’s drive to help others inspired her to be a school counselor and is now first-year counseling graduate student at CSUN.
‘I remember seeing her achieve and how she did in school with my guidance,’ Gabby said. ‘It really made me see what I wanted to do with children and realize that I want to work in a school environment so I’m getting my degree here because of her.’
Gabby described herself as an adventurer never giving a second thought to sleeping in a park when she backpacked through Europe.
‘Aida always felt like she needed to value her life, every second of it,’ said Gabby, who now looks at life and it’s risks differently. ‘To me this is just so tragic because I lost a sister, she was so young and I can say that she was more responsible than I was, was more mature and accomplished a lot more and life cut her short and she was ready to blossom.’
Aida moved out of her home and into the dorms her freshman year. Her roommate, Michelle Oh, saw Aida an hour before the accident and said she is swept with sadness every time she sees her old roommate’s bed and belongings.
‘Even though I only knew her for three weeks I felt like I knew her for a long time,’ said Oh, who would talk to Aida until 2 a.m. sometimes. ‘She was someone I could talk to about anything.’
When professor Elias Serna heard that a CSUN student had passed away, he said he hoped that he wouldn’t recognize the picture. He did as one of his former student’s. Before the vigil he looked at his grade book and realized that Aida had not only never missed an assignment, but also received the highest grade on the final.
‘I want to point that out to students because that is her legacy,’ Serna said. ‘She worked hard, she moved, she traveled across dimensions and space and she transcended.
The student he remembers challenged herself and made things happen for herself as well.
‘She also stayed connected with her family and friends and these are great things.’
Aida is survived by five brothers and sisters, as well as her mother and father Leticia and Juvenal Magdaleno.
Juan Magdaleno, Aida’s brother, pointed out that one of the main reasons Aida wanted to give back to the community was because she was an immigrant and since the United States had given her the opportunity to receive an education she saw it as only fair.
‘I told Aida when you get to college your going to see things differently you can either just wing it’hellip;Or you can get the most out of your money,’ Magdaleno said.
‘She decided to make the most out of her money she wanted the best education and I hope that you guys do the same thing.’