Napa College mourns loss of young psychologist

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"She had just announced last week that she was pregnant," said a somber Lynette Cortes, who worked side by side with psychologist Jennifer Gonzales at the campus veteran's service center at Napa Valley College. (KGO-TV)

The three women killed at a Yountville veterans home last week had deep connections to the surrounding community, including Napa Valley College, where students and staff were in mourning Monday after losing one of their own.

"She had just announced last week that she was pregnant," said a somber Lynette Cortes, who worked side by side with psychologist Jennifer Gonzales Shushereba, at the campus veteran's service center at Napa Valley College. Those who worked with her there knew her by her maiden name, Gonzales.

The 32-year-old Gonzales worked at the college three days a week, up at The Pathway Home in Yountville the other two, on Mondays and Fridays.
"She just wanted the best from veterans and for everyone. She made me better at my job," said Cortes. "Really she was just a great person who wanted the best for everyone."

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Last Friday, the pregnant Gonzales was killed, along with Pathway Home Executive Director Christine Loeber and the program's Clinical Director Jennifer Golick.

Gonzales' co-workers have set up a memorial in her honor in the campus veteran's center, where students and staff can write their own tributes to the vibrant young psychologist.

Beyond that, the larger healing effort has begun, including a comfort dog, Aaron, a golden retriever trained to bring some peace where there is pain.

"She was a very agreeable, enjoyable person," said Napa College Police Chief Kenneth Arnold, who knew both Gonzales and Loeber.
"On Friday, when we're hearing this happen and we're hearing the names, it was very impactful," said Arnold. "I mean we realized there was a tie to the college and these were people that we knew personally."

TAKE ACTION: Help for veterans of all eras and their families

Loeber made a presentation to college Board of Trustees last November. At one point she talks passionately about trying to help veterans with PTSD.

"As a program, we don't want to just minimize symptoms," said Loeber, speaking at the podium on a video recording of the meeting. "We're not saying 'Oh you have PTSD. Let's look at your symptoms, let's minimize that and then you're on your own.'"

Those who knew both women say their work will continue at Napa College, a place that serves many of the same veterans who attend Pathway.

"If we didn't need to work and we were still getting paid for it, we'd still be doing it. It's just a matter of heart for us," explained Cortes.

Click here for full coverage on the deadly shooting at the Veterans Home of California in Yountville.
Related Topics:
mental healthYountville veterans home shootingshooting rampagenapa countyveteranveteransPTSDshootingYountvilleNapa
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