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BU mourns freshman killed in Mexico City robbery

Diego Fernandez Montes.

A day before heading home to Mexico to spend spring break with family, Boston University freshman Diego Fernandez Montes picked up a camera and roamed Boston, taking photographs of memorable scenes. The outing turned out to be his final trip through the city, where Fernandez studied economics with the hope of getting an education that would help him advance his native country.

Fernandez was killed Thursday during an apparent robbery while taking a taxi in Mexico City, the university said Tuesday. His death was announced by president Robert A. Brown in an e-mail to the college community.

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His father, Julian Fernandez, told BU Today, the school news website, that he had come to terms with his son’s death.

“I’m very much at peace, because Diego was at peace,” Fernandez said. “He was at peace with everyone. He didn’t have any qualms, any regrets. If you asked me if I knew anybody who was spiritually prepared to take off from this world, it was Diego.”

During his few months at BU, Diego Fernandez Montes embraced Boston and college life, classmates said. He became treasurer of both his residence hall association and the university’s Mexican Students Association.

“He was very proud of his country, and he dreamed of improving life back at home,’’ said Anai Sanchez Riveron, 19, a BU freshman from Monterrey, Mexico.

Fernandez reflected on his desire to become more aware of the social woes facing the world in an essay he titled, “I’m Not an Ostrich,” said his roommate, Chiraag Devani.

Devani, who is from Kenya, said he bonded with Fernandez over the composition.

“We both have one dream — to make our home countries a better place,” Devani wrote in a posting on Fernandez’s Facebook wall after his death. “. . . I hope that dream comes true. Your drive, your ambition, and your world view were all unique traits that you unintentionally impressed upon the entire world.”

Sanchez Riveron said that Fernandez was grateful for the chance to study in the United States and felt a duty to give back to Mexico. “He was very driven,” she said. “Whatever he had set out to do, he always followed through.”

Devani described the Mexican student group as a big part of Fernandez’s life, recalling that he traveled to Yale University to attend a conference where participants discussed how they could best use their US educations to advance Mexico.

“He wanted his life to have meaning,” Devani said.

Fernandez was also open to new experiences he encountered in Boston, including the New England winter.

During his last outing here, he spent 2½ hours photographing quintessential spots like the Esplanade and Quincy Market and venturing into Cambridge to explore, Sanchez Riveron said.

“He was always taking pictures,” she said.

A funeral Mass on Sunday for Fernandez in Mexico City was attended by some of his BU classmates, Brown said.

Kenneth Elmore, BU’s dean of students, called their attendance a “beautiful sign of community’’ and said that it shows “a level of caring . . . that’s very important.”

A campus memorial service is being planned.

Fernandez’s friends said they hope to display some of his Boston photographs as part of a campus showcase of his work. They are stored on a flash drive that Fernandez gave to a friend before heading home, Sanchez Riveron said.

“He was one of the people who lived life to its fullest,” Devani said. “He’s one of those people who makes you want to wake up every morning and make a difference in the world.”

John R. Ellement contributed to this story. Laura Crimaldi can be reached at laura.crimaldi@ globe.com.

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