UC Merced campus holding out hope for student missing after Oakland fire

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- In a message to students Monday morning, UC Merced confirmed that student Jennifer Mendiola is listed among the missing after a fire ravaged an Oakland warehouse during a party, killing at least 36 people.

UC Merced staffers said Mendiola, who also goes by Alana Kane, is a third-year health psychology student currently getting her doctorate degree. While they are not ready to grieve since she's still considered missing, they are preparing for the worst.

As first responders search for Mendiola, a heartbreaking plea came from a grieving family member.

"Please, just call us, we're all looking for you," Jennifer's sister-in-law Anna Mendiola's said. "Your mom, your dad, everybody. Your husband. We are all looking for you.

Mendiola has been missing since this Oakland warehouse went up in flames. The accomplished student is still unaccounted for among dozens of others

"Everyone is just in shock we remain hopeful, but she is on the list of the missing," Brenda Ortiz with the university said. "So, it's just a sad time and we're all concerned for her, her family and friends."

Mendiola is a graduate student and is getting her doctorate in health psychology. She's expected to graduate in 2017. Her biography on the school's website lists a master's degree from Sacramento State University as one of her achievements.

"We have a close-knit campus community and when something happens to one of us, it affects us all," Ortiz said.

But as her colleagues wait to hear if she's okay, her family is taking to Facebook to answer questions. One post from Mendiola's sister-in-law said Jennifer has been married for eight years but recently separated from her husband.

Mendiola was last seen with her boyfriend, Micah Danemayer, who authorities said died in the fire.

"Call any of us if you're around," Mendiola cried. "If something happened we don't care, we just want to know if you're alive or not."

Among the wreckage and destruction was a cry for hope. Staffers said Mendiola was a teacher's aide. And along with her research, she did work with undergraduate students.

Even though she's is still considered missing UC Merced said they have counseling services available to anyone who needs it.
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