Indiana University honors Ukraine crash victim

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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — Indiana University presented a posthumous degree to the family of a Dutch doctoral student who was among those killed when a passenger jet was shot down over eastern Ukraine this summer.

Karlijn Keijzer's parents, sister and brother traveled from their home in the Netherlands to Bloomington to spend several days visiting places where Keijzer spent her time during her years pursuing a Ph.D. in chemistry.

In addition to presenting her family with her posthumous degree during the Wednesday ceremony, the school christened a rowing shell named for Keijzer, who competed for IU's women's rowing team after she arrived at the school in 2010.

Jacqueline Keijzer recalled how difficult it was to have her daughter living so far away.

"As a mother I didn't like it, but I saw her happy here," she told The Herald-Times ( ).

Keijzer, 25, and her boyfriend, Laurens Van Der Graaff, were among the 298 people killed when their Malaysia Airlines jetliner was shot down July 17 over territory held by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. It had been headed from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

The long-distance couple posted a photo of themselves online before their trip.

"They both flew a lot toward each other. This was the first time they flew together," said Karlijn's father, Freek Keijzer.

The family's trip to Bloomington included trying Upland Wheat, her favorite beer, at Nick's English Hut near campus. They went to Lake Lemon, where her 23-year-old sister Annebel rowed with the IU team, and the chemistry building where she worked.

"The nicest thing I think is seeing where Karlijn lived and what she did," said her 21-year-old brother Rutger. "Now I can really see who she was hanging out with, and what kind of people they were, and I can really see why she liked it here so much."

During the memorial program, Karlijn's parents showed childhood photos of Karlijn and her youthful attempts to copy equations from her father's Ph.D. physics thesis.

At age 11, Karlijn told her teachers "she wants to be a scientist to make a medicine for AIDS," Jacqueline Keijzer said.

Freek Keijzer said it was important for the family to share their grief with Karlijn's friends, some of whom they first met during Skype sessions with her.

"It's great to have been here, but it's terrible to be here," he said. "Because everything reminds of her."


Information from: The Herald Times,

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