‘A beautiful soul’ with ‘the biggest smile’: Nursing students honor Natalie Aviles with special message on her chair

Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 3:29 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 3:31 PM CDT
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TEMPLE, Texas (KWTX) - Fellow nursing classmates of Natalie Aviles, 20, a beloved member of the McGregor community shot and killed in a shooting rampage that left her mother and three neighbors dead on Sept. 29, are making sure the aspiring doctor who “always a smile on her face” is honored.

The students marked Natalie’s chair in their Temple College Nursing Program classroom with angel wings, a halo and the dates 2002-2022.

“When I found out about her passing, the first image of her that came into my head was seeing her sitting in class just smiling,” said Sheyne Waters, a fellow student who came up with the design for the sticker now adorning Natalie’s chair.

“She always had the biggest smile on her face, and I designed the sticker because I felt like that was her seat and I didn’t want, or I didn’t feel like it was right for anyone to really ever sit there again.”

The students marked Natalie’s chair in their Temple College Nursing Program classroom with...
The students marked Natalie’s chair in their Temple College Nursing Program classroom with angel wings, a halo and the dates 2002-2022.(Courtesy Photo)

The classmates were in their first semester of the program and just getting to know one other better, but all agreed there was one trait about Natalie that shined from day one: her smile.

“Natalie had the most beautiful smile and a personality that we don’t see very often in many people,” classmate Vianey Davis said. “She will be very missed, and we just wanted to honor her in some way or another.”

Classmates also brought roses to school to place on Natalie’s desk, which were later delivered to the family before her funeral.

Davis was also one of the students who organized that.

“When we heard the news, it was very devastating,” Davis said. “Such a tragic thing to happen. Our hearts go out to all the families of all the victims. It was very heartwarming to see how everybody came together.”

Classmates also brought roses to school to place on Natalie’s desk, which were later delivered...
Classmates also brought roses to school to place on Natalie’s desk, which were later delivered to the family before her funeral.(KWTX Graphic)

Classmate Amanda Burkhart also helped with gathering the flowers and said they felt like they needed and wanted to do something.

“We were all devastated when we heard of her passing, so we just felt like we couldn’t come to class empty handed on Tuesday, and so I helped organize where all classmates brought a rose to place on her desk if they were able to, or wanted to, because Natalie was just a beautiful person,” Burkhart said.

“She lit up the room with her smile and the flowers just, I felt like, were a good representation of her and we were able to honor her in that moment.”

One classmate left a note on Natalie’s desk that described how she texted Natalie the morning of the shootings to see if she was okay.

Natalie's classmates took a photo around the makeshift memorial in the classroom.
Natalie's classmates took a photo around the makeshift memorial in the classroom.(Courtesy Photo)

The class they shared started at 8 a.m. and officials tell us Natalie was killed around 7:35 a.m. Natalie even had her backpack on the front porch when she died.

The note goes on to say “it’s still vivid in my mind; your smile, your dimples, and the glitter in your eyes. Simply a beautiful face. Beautiful soul.”

The letter also references Natalie’s dad who died of cancer in 2020. “You kept telling everybody that you had missed your dad,” the letter on Natalie’s desk reads. “At least now your mom and you are reunited with him.”

Natalie’s mother, Lori Aviles, was also gunned down last Thursday in her driveway. Investigators say they were random targets of a gunman who had just slain three members of his own family next door.

Natalie’s family tells KWTX the nursing student wanted to use her medical skills and love for Jesus to help people in other countries.

She’d already traveled to Costa Rica on a medical mission trip and dreamed of one day becoming a pediatric oncologist.

“She wanted to share the gospel to others so she had hopes of being like a missionary but one that would also be able to use her medical background around the world,” Natalie’s aunt, Renee Flores said.

“Oh, our Nat -- She was going to do great things.”

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