HONG KONG -- Grief over a Chinese student who was killed in the Boston Marathon bombing rippled across her home country on Wednesday as Internet sites and news reports described and celebrated a young woman whose ambitions for a career in finance were cut harshly short.
Boston University and the Chinese Consulate General in New York have said the victim was a graduate student at the college, but the consulate said her family asked that no personal details be disclosed. A classmate, a Chinese university official and a state-run newspaper in her home city have said she was Lu Lingzi, who accompanied a friend to watch the marathon near where the blasts shook the streets.
Even without government confirmation that Ms. Lu was one of three people killed in the explosion on Monday, Chinese Internet sites filled with mournful messages about a woman whose aspirations took her from a rust-belt hometown, Shenyang, to Beijing and then the United States. Her account on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblogging service used by tens of millions of people in China, attracted more than 10,000 messages, mostly of condolence, in the hours after the Chinese news media reported her death.
"You are in heaven now, where there are no bombs," said one message.
Ms. Lu, 23, had become interested in Christianity, said a fellow Chinese student at Boston University, Lu Meixu, who is not related but is also from Shenyang.
Ms. Lu's own final message on Weibo was posted on Monday. It showed a picture of a bowl of Chinese fried bread and said, "My wonderful breakfast." Ms. Lu, shown on her Weibo page as a petite woman with thick shoulder-length hair, said there that she enjoyed food, music and finance. Other Facebook photos showed her at Toah Nipi, a Christian retreat center in southern New Hampshire.
Although China's and the United States' perceptions of each other are often overshadowed by political rancor, Ms. Lu's death gave a melancholy face to the attraction that America and its colleges exert over many young Chinese. More than 194,000 Chinese students were enrolled in American colleges and universities in the 2011-12 academic year, far exceeding any other foreign country, according to the Institute of International Education. And Boston, with its many colleges and the cachet of Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, has long been a magnet for them.
News of the death of one Chinese student and the injury of another prompted comment from China's top leader, President Xi Jinping, whose own daughter has studied at Harvard.
Mr. Xi said he was "extremely concerned" and he passed on messages of comfort to the two students' families, as well as the injured student, the official news agency Xinhua reported. The Chinese government has never publicly confirmed that Mr. Xi's daughter was studying at Harvard, and it is unclear whether she is still enrolled there.
Ms. Lu, whose résumé lists a succession of academic achievements and internships with financial firms, appeared to be among the many hoping that an American degree would pave the way to a prestigious job in finance or business. She went to high school in Shenyang, a cradle of state-driven industrialization in northeast China that fell on hard times in the 1990s, and then studied international trade at the Beijing Institute of Technology, and statistics at Boston University, according to her résumé on LinkedIn, a social networking Web site.
But Ms. Lu shared more prosaic pleasures and worries with other Chinese students studying in Boston.
"She said she wanted to have a boyfriend as soon as possible, because her family was worried that if she couldn't find a boyfriend they would have to help," said Lu Meixu, her friend also studying at Boston University. "She hoped she could meet 'the one' as soon as possible."
Ming Chen, a 23-year-old graduate student in computer science, met Ms. Lu when they were still in China, preparing to come to Boston to study.
"She was optimistic, outgoing, and really hard-working," said Mr. Chen. The two shared a love of the rock band Nirvana, he said, adding that she used the group's line "smells like teen spirit" in her profile on QQ, a popular instant-messaging service in China.
Ms. Lu's fellow students realized she was missing after the marathon, and members of a Chinese student group fanned out across the city, sending students to hospitals looking for her.
By Tuesday night, many students had seen Chinese news media reports saying that Ms. Lu was dead.
"I still can't believe it. We just finished class, and no one is sitting at her desk," said one of Ms. Lu's classmates, who was clad in black as a symbol of mourning. She asked not to be identified because Boston University had not yet confirmed Ms. Lu's identity, which it later did.
"We're all statistics students," continued the classmate. "The probability of this happening is so low."
Jess Bidgood contributed reporting from Boston. Mia Li and Patrick Zuo contributed research from Beijing, and Mary Hui from Hong Kong.world
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.