Death claims young journalist Jamie Gonzales

25-year-old former Journal intern dies of same cancer as grandmother
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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Jamie Gonzales’ life was cut short on Oct. 14 when she lost her fight with cancer. The Elk Grove resident was just 25 years old. Jamie was an intern at the Auburn Journal during the summer of 2007. Jamie lived in Fort Bragg for a time, then attended Bella Vista High School in Fair Oaks. She began her college career at American River Commun-ity College. She transferred to Sacramento State University where she became a photographer for the State Hornet campus newspaper. When Jamie decided she wanted to write the stories that went along with her photographs, she became a news reporter. She became the online news editor before graduating in May 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in government journalism. In January she got a job as a news reporter for the Elk Grove Citizen. Former State Hornet Editor-in-Chief Nate Miller said Jamie’s ability to do a variety of jobs in journalism really made her more of a professional journalist than a student while on the State Hornet. “Jamie is one of the only people I can remember that went from photography to being a writer,” Miller said. “In her short time doing it, she was able to have different jobs and do different things. Jamie probably didn’t know she was doing things like the pros do.” Jamie is remembered fondly as a happy, quirky, caring person by her fellow students on the State Hornet. Miller remembers one amusing incident having to do with a nickname that Sac State students have given to the school’s president, Alexander Gonzalez. “At two different times she said ‘Gonzo’ to school representatives,” Miller said. “It was totally by accident. Jamie was goofy, she didn’t take a lot of things too seriously.” Jamie was passionate about many things including writing, photography, NASCAR, soccer, chocolate and Greek and Roman history. For her job as city reporter for the Elk Grove Citizen, Jamie was able to meet NASCAR driver Mario Andretti. Holly Heyser, faculty adviser for the State Hornet, said it is obvious from pictures that Jamie was overjoyed. “She’s towering over Andretti and just looking happy as hell,” Heyser said. Heyser said one of the tragic things about Jamie’s death is that she was not able to achieve everything she wanted to in journalism. “On journalism, she was just getting her start,” Heyser said. “She’s had a couple jobs … but she really never got a chance to make the kind of impact every journalist wants to make and that’s what’s disturbing.” Jamie’s grandmother preceded her in death, also from colon cancer. Jamie was diagnosed in May 2008, and in one of her first cancer blogs for the Elk Grove Citizen, she wrote that she suspected the cause to be tainted ground water in the area of Fort Bragg in which she lived. The city had recently found a possible connection between the cancer-causing chemical dioxin in the water and a local logging company. Jamie is remembered as a very caring person by her close friends, and this did not change at the end of her life, according to friend and colleague Linda Le Park. “She went to the birthday party of (my daughter), and at that time she was still very sick,” Park said. “She brought my daughter a present and that to me was very very meaningful. Here she was dying from cancer and she was thinking of other people. She didn’t want to be remembered as ‘Jamie, the girl who is dying from cancer,’ she wanted to be remembered for the happy smart-ass she was.” Nika Megino, former State Hornet colleague and friend, said it was the little things Jamie did that made her really amazing. The two had a journalism class together that was full every day, and if the students didn’t get there early, they would not find seats. Megino remembers that Jamie always saved her a seat. “Something about Jamie is she’s just amazing,” Megino said. “She’s always been that in terms of professionally and a friend.” Jenna Hughes, a former editor on the State Hornet, said Jamie’s passion for journalism caused her to hold approximately seven different positions while on the newspaper’s staff. She was also instrumental in creating the position of mobile journalist, something the State Hornet had never tried before in which a reporter covers breaking news while roaming the university campus. Hughes remembered a journalism conference she and Jamie attended in Portland, Ore. Hughes bought Jamie a cigar to celebrate the trip even though Jamie did not smoke. Jamie made a promise to smoke the cigar in celebration of her last day at Sac State, and she did just that. Auburn Journal Senior Editor Deric Rothe expressed the sadness felt by Journal staff members upon learning of Jamie’s death. “We’re happy that we were able to spend a summer working with her and enjoying her zest for life and free spirit, but are shocked and saddened at her death,” Rothe said. “She will be missed.” Jamie is survived by her fiancé, James Carey of Elk Grove; uncles Lee Rabe and wife Stephanie of Loomis as well as Scott Rabe and wife Dawn of Elk Grove; and cousins Kyle, Lacey, Connor and Megan Rabe. A private service will be held for Jamie on Nov. 8, and those who would like more information about the service can e-mail A memorial scholarship has been created in Jamie’s name. This scholarship will go toward promoting the educations of aspiring Sac State journalists just like Jamie. Those interested should make checks payable to”University Foundation of Sacramento State,” write “Jamie Gonzales Memorial Scholarship Fund” in the memo line and mail them to The Jamie Gonzales Memorial Scholarship Fund, c/o The State Hornet, Sacramento State, 6000 J St., University Union-2nd Floor, Sacramento CA 95819-6102.