Graduate student from UC Merced still missing after deadly Oakland fire

MERCED, Calif. (KFSN) -- A massive fire in Oakland leaves dozens dead with many still considered missing. One of those still missing is Jennifer Mendiola-- a psychology graduate student at UC Merced.

Mendiola's peers and professors said they are are hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

"Right now-- we're just waiting for answers," said Gabriel Hulbert, Internal Vice President of Associated Students.

The university annoucned Mendiola has been missing since an Oakland warehouse went up in flames Friday.

PHOTOS: A look inside the Oakland Ghost Ship collective warehouse

Mendiola, who also goes by Alana Kane, was last seen with her boyfriend, Micah Danemayer, who was killed in the fire. The accomplished student's professors said they were jarred when they got the news-- they're still clinging on hope

"We just really hope that it was a mistake, and her phone has been off. And she'll walk into the lab tomorrow morning, but we're also trying to prepare for the worst," said Anna Song, UC Merced Associate Professor.

Professors decribe Mendiola as a go getter with a love for learning, but a bigger love for people. She was just a year shy of graduating.

They said Mediola was studying risk behavior as a psychology student-- hoping to one day make a difference.

"She believed that by understanding human behavior she could make the world a better place. She was that kind of person," said Song.

Mendiola's close friends also waiting desperatly for answers. Daniel Mello, another graduate student we spoke to, said he knew her well.

Mello sent an email stating, "The best thing about Jennifer was her passion. She was open , welcoming, and dedicated," and that, "she always wanted to do so much."

Mendiola's Bobcat family said it is to early to mourn, and are just desperately waiting for answers.

We briefly spoke to Mendiola's sister in law over the phone who said they still have yet to hear anything from police.
Copyright © 2021 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.