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(NECN: Alysha Palumbo, Boston) - Just days away from becoming a mom, 33-year-old Elif Yavuz was living out her dream of making a difference in the lives of people in Africa, when she and her boyfriend Ross Langdon and their unborn child were killed in the Kenyan Mall attack.
Julie Rafferty, Associate Vice Dean for Communications at Harvard's School of Public Health said, "It just feels so senseless when someone is just getting started in their career, you know what their commitment is and then that it happens in such a horrific way as this happened."
Yavuz had just received her doctorate from Harvard University's School of Public Health this year, after doing her dissertation research on malaria in Uganda.
Born in the Netherlands, Yavuz had become very close with her Harvard classmates, including her professor and advisor Jessica Cohen, who called her one of the best students she's ever had.
Cohen said, "She was an incredibly special and sweet person, she was very intelligent, she was hilarious and she was full of life."
Cohen says Yavuz was working with the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Tanzania, but had recently traveled to Kenya for the health care services there.
"She was 38 weeks pregnant," said Cohen, "and she had gone to Nairobi to prepare for birth of her child, so she thought it would a safer place."
Cohen says she was scheduled to go to Nairobi next week to work on a maternal and child health project.
Cohen says she never felt unsafe there.
"Many of us, including me, have been in that mall many times, had coffee and sushi and bought groceries in that mall and it really feels like a safe place, it's not a kind of place you would warn someone not to go," said Cohen, "We're all really heart-broken."
President Clinton, Secretary Clinton, and Chelsea Clinton released a statement through the Clinton Foundation saying in part, "We were shocked and terribly saddened to learn of the death of Elif Yavuz in the senseless attacks in Nairobi. Elif was brilliant, dedicated, and deeply admired by her colleagues, who will miss her terribly."