Johns Hopkins graduate working as U.S. diplomat killed in Afghanistan

Smedinghoff, 25, was part of convoy traveling to school to donate books

A 2009 graduate of Johns Hopkins University working as a State Department diplomat in Afghanistan was among five Americans killed Saturday when the convoy they were traveling in was struck by a suicide bomber.

Anne Smedinghoff

Image caption: Anne Smedinghoff

Image credit: Family photo, via Chicago Tribune

Anne Smedinghoff, 25, was among a group of officials traveling to a school to donate books. Four other Americans—a civilian and three soldiers—were also killed in the attack.

Smedinghoff joined the U.S. Foreign Service after graduating from Johns Hopkins and, according to a statement released by her parents, "absolutely loved the work she was doing" in public diplomacy, engaged in direct outreach to the Afghan people. Her parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff of the Chicago suburb of River Forest, Ill., added that their daughter "was always looking for opportunities to reach out and help to make a difference in the lives of those living in a country ravaged by war."

Johns Hopkins President Ronald J. Daniels sent a message about Smedinghoff's death to the Johns Hopkins community on Sunday afternoon.

"Katherine Newman, dean of the Krieger School, joins me in extending our deepest sympathies, and those of the entire Johns Hopkins community, to Anne's parents and family and to her many friends, especially her Johns Hopkins friends," Daniels wrote. "May they all be consoled by their memories of her vibrant, valuable, well-lived life and by our appreciation of the absolutely vital work she was doing when she died."

Smedinghoff was the first U.S. diplomat killed on the job since Ambassador Christopher Stevens and four others were killed in an attack on a diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, on Sept. 11, 2012. She recently assisted Secretary of State John Kerry during a visit to Kabul. In remarks made Sunday in Turkey, Kerry said she was "vivacious, smart, capable, chosen often by the ambassador there to be the lead person because of her capacity."

Smedinghoff majored in international studies at Johns Hopkins and was a co-chair of the 2008 student-run Foreign Affairs Symposium, called "A Decade of Discussion." She was active member of Kappa Alpha Theta and a founding member of the Johns Hopkins chapter of Rho Lambda, the national sorority leadership recognition society. She was also elected to the Order of Omega, a national fraternity and sorority leadership honor society.

Julie Miller, a 2007 Johns Hopkins graduate, spoke with Smedinghoff in October while in Afghanistan with the International Security Assistance Force.

"We shared several meals on the U.S. Embassy compound in Kabul and traded war stories of living and working in a complicated, war-torn area with incredible challenges ahead," Miller wrote in an email after learning of Smedinghoff's death. "Anne remained so positive about small successes across Afghanistan.

"Anne was never naive to the challenges, and we spoke frankly about difficult issues in security, infrastructure, and unfortunate corruption, but we both knew that the fruits of our efforts—both militarily and diplomatically—would not be determined for many, many more years. With that, she kept the faith, and an adventurous heart, as she continued covering and supporting projects that would make a difference in the lives of Afghans."

More coverage: