Family and friends remember graduate student for humor, drive

Women's studies graduate student Seanna Mullen, second from left, shares stories of her friendship with Jenny Gonzalez Perdomo, who died of an illness Tuesday. Friends and family gathered at the department's townhouse for a memorial Wednesday evening. Francis Rivera | Assistant Photo Editor

Members of the community joined friends and family of Jenny Gonzalez Perdomo Wednesday evening to celebrate the life of a 27-year-old graduate student remembered for her wit and enthusiasm.

Perdomo died suddenly of an illness Tuesday at about 4:05 p.m., her husband Ralph Perdomo said at a memorial held at the Women’s studies department building, where about 20 individuals gathered in her memory. The master’s student was slated to graduate in the spring.

Her mother, Carmen Gonzalez, said Perdomo died from what her family believes was an infection, but they are unsure of the exact cause of death. She said Perdomo, who was always well-behaved as a child, was compassionate, funny and a good student.

“I want to really thank you guys, because by listening to you, she is here. She is alive,” Gonzalez said at the memorial service.

Perdomo lived in Fairfax, Va. and was a member of the GW Graduate Feminists and worked at the D.C. chapter of the Young Nonprofit Professionals Network. She was also a practicum assistant at the women’s studies department and an intern at the American Association of University Women.

Graduate student Hannah Belec said Perdomo, who hoped to one day run a nonprofit focused on women’s issues, was talented, driven and generous.

“But these tidbits about Jenny seem really small and insignificant on paper because these facts can’t capture the intelligence, grace, kindness, thoughtfulness and, the most painful thing for me to remember, the potential that defined Jenny to us,” Belec said.

She said Perdomo left a lasting mark on the department’s tight-knit community.

Director of the women’s studies program Daniel Moshenberg read the poem “A Litany for Survival” by Audre Lorde in honor of Perdomo.

“And when the sun rises we are afraid it might not remain, when the sun sets we are afraid it might not rise in the morning…so it is better to speak remembering we were never meant to survive,” Moshenberg read.

The two worked on a project focusing on feminist news aggregation together, he said, calling her industrious and inventive.

Ralph Perdomo said his wife was modest and didn’t realize her energy would rub off on others. The pair married in June 2010, after first meeting in a Spanish class in high school.

“She was just a great person,” he said.

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