BOSTON (CBS) — At least 62 people have been killed in the terrorist attack and three-day siege at a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, including a recent graduate of the Harvard School of Public Health.
Dr. Elif Yavuz, a Dutch citizen, received her doctorate from Harvard in May. She recently moved to Tanzania to work for the Clinton Health Access Initiative and was in Nairobi preparing for the birth of her first child.
Yavuz, who was eight months into her pregnancy, was in the Westgate Shopping Center with her partner when the terrorists stormed the mall and started shooting and lobbing grenades.
On Monday, the dean of the Harvard School of Public Health, Julio Frenk, issued the following prepared statement about Yavuz’s death: “Elif committed her career and her life to helping those in need. Her compassion was an inspiration to everyone she touched at HSPH and the broader global community in which she lived and worked. She will be deeply missed by all who knew her.”
Dr. Jessica Cohen, an assistant professor of global health at HSPH, said Yavuz had followed a calling to Africa.
“That was a dream job for her,” Cohen said of Yavuz working at the Clinton Health Access Initiative in Tanzania. “This job in particular, which they hired her into right after she got her doctorate, was a combination of her research training and her experience in the field doing data collection in developing countries.”
Cohen said Yavuz’s death is a personal loss and a loss to the HSPH community.
“I was one of her professors, and I was her thesis adviser and her collaborator and her friend,” she said. “I think everyone that knew her at the Harvard School of Public Health is heartbroken, and she was a tremendously special person and was full of life, and was really funny and caring and sweet. And she was one of the best students I’ve had. I don’t know how else to describe her except very full of life, so it is a terrible shock and sadness to hear about this.”