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Melissa Pereira 'Had a Passion for Life,' Friends Say

Wayne resident was remembered Thursday at a memorial at her alma mater, Caldwell College.

Melissa Pereira, 25 / Photo courtesy of New Jersey State Police
Melissa Pereira, 25 / Photo courtesy of New Jersey State Police

Melissa Pereira always had a smile on her face.

Pereira’s friends spoke about the impact Pereira had on their lives at a memorial mass at Caldwell College Thursday night. Pereira, 25, was an alumnus of the college.

Pereira and her boyfriend Jorge Rodriguez, 24, were found dead Sunday inside the detached garage of the Wayne apartment Pereira lived in with her mother.

“She had a passion for life. It was so obvious in what she did,” said Kristin Wagner, a member of Students for Life, a pro-life club at the college Pereira founded with some friends a few years ago. The club holds diaper drives and other charitable events for young mothers. Pereira always participated in the annual Right to Life marches in Washington, D.C.

“Being pro-life is something a lot of people keep to themselves but Melissa wasn’t like that,” said Wagner. “She wanted to spread the word.”

Pereira was a communication arts major. She worked at Fox News in New York City. Her resume on Linkedin.com states she worked on “Your World” with Neil Cavuto until April 2012 when she went to work at the Boys & Girls Club of Paterson and Passaic.

Lynette Lopez, one of Pereira’s best friends, met her sophomore year. Their majors were the same and they lived across from each other in the dorm on campus.

“She wasn’t fake. What you saw with her is what you got,” said Lopez, who would often edit videos with Pereira until the early morning hours. “We would take breaks and watch YouTube videos to relax. She loved Michael Jackson.”

Pereira also worked part time at a photo studio at J.C. Penney in Wayne where she met Rodriguez two years ago. The couple was reportedly very happy together.

The couple had been reported missing Dec. 30. They were last seen the night of Dec. 27 when they were supposed to go for a brief ride together. They were supposed to check in at the Cherry Valley Manor bed and breakfast in Stroudsburg, Pa. but never did.

Pereira posted on Twitter Dec. 14 that it was the two-year anniversary of the couple’s first kiss.

“I love him insanely,” she wrote Dec. 23.

Friends and members of the public may offer their condolences to the family at Funeraria San Camilo in Newark on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m.; flowers should be delivered to the funeral home before 11 a.m., Lopez said.

— Have a question or news tip? Contact editor Daniel Hubbard at Daniel.Hubbard@patch.com or find us on Facebook and Twitter. For news straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

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