Long Beach City College alumna Jenni Rivera was a successful singer, businesswoman and budding actress when she died in a 2012 plane crash after a concert in Mexico. She was 43.

Rivera was a straight-A student at Long Beach Polytechnic High School until her sophomore year, when she became pregnant with the first of her five children. Rivera thought about dropping out, but her counselors didn’t want to hear it. She graduated as valedictorian at her continuation school.

From there, Rivera attended Long Beach City College and Cal State Long Beach as a business administration major. She made her first recording as a Father’s Day present to her father, and she was later signed to Capitol/EMI’s Latin Division. Her first album, Chacalosa, was released in 1995.

Rivera had 15 gold records, 15 platinum and five double platinum records, with more than 15 million records sold in all. She was an in-demand artist, not only in Mexico but also in the United States, selling out performances wherever she went.

In addition to her entertainment career, Rivera was an entrepreneur and philanthropist who started many companies, including Divina Realty, Divina Cosmetics, Jenni Rivera Fragrance, Jenni Jeans, Divine Music and The Jenni Rivera Love Foundation.

“As a strong Latina, she represented her family, community and state at the national and international levels,” State Sen. Ricardo Lara said just days after her death. “Her passionate songs of perseverance inspired millions and brought a renewed interest and respect for her interpretations of Mexican regional music to the United States.”