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Violence Claims Life of Young Diplomat

The Krieger School community continues to mourn the untimely loss of one of its own—Anne Smedinghoff ’09, who was killed April 6 during a suicide bomber attack in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan. A U.S. diplomat, she was driving with a group of other Americans to donate textbooks for Afghan school students. Three U.S. soldiers and another American employee were also killed.

Smedinghoff, 25, joined the U.S. Foreign Service just after her graduation from Johns Hopkins as an international studies major. Her parents, Tom and Mary Beth Smedinghoff, released a statement saying, “We are consoled knowing that she was doing what she loved, and that she was serving her country by helping to make a positive difference in the world.”

Smedinghoff’s first assignment for the U.S. Foreign Service was in Caracas, Venezuela. After that she volunteered for the Afghanistan assignment. According to a report in The Washington Post, Smedinghoff was to complete that assignment in July. She was preparing to learn Arabic before embarking on a two-year assignment in Algeria.

In the days after it happened, Smedinghoff’s death received national attention. Just the week before, she had been selected to support Secretary of State John Kerry during his visit to Afghanistan. “She was everything a Foreign Service officer should be: smart, capable, eager to serve, and deeply committed to our country and the difference she was making for the Afghan people,” said Kerry. “She tragically gave her young life working to give young Afghans the opportunity to have a better future.”

Anne Smedinghoff Memorial Fund

The Anne Smedinghoff Memorial Fund at Johns Hopkins University will provide support for students who wish to pursue activities in international development or diplomacy.

Remembering Anne Smedinghoff

Friends and former classmates of Anne Smedinghoff ’09 were shocked and saddened by her untimely death on April 6 in Afghanistan. They remember her as brave, bright, focused, and friendly.

“Anne was a huge reason why I wanted to become a Foreign Service officer. She was smart, vibrant, economically/politically/socially conscious, and she always seemed to be having fun with whatever she was doing. Anne remained so positive about small successes across Afghanistan: inklings toward a more open press, emergence of women-owned small businesses, and of course, the work that the State Department was doing to prop up education, particularly for young girls. Anne was never naïve to the challenges, and we spoke frankly about difficult issues in security, infrastructure, and unfortunate corruption. She kept the faith—and an adventurous heart—as she continued supporting projects that would make a difference in the lives of Afghans.”
–Julie Miller ’07

“I participated in the Mock Trial team at Johns Hopkins with Anne during my freshman year. She was a senior at the time and vice president of the program. She was always an inspiration to me for how dedicated she was. Through our many tournaments over the year, I learned that she was also a constant joy to be around. Mock Trial at JHU has grown in recent years to be one of the most competitive teams in the nation, and I attribute a large part of that to her influence upon it.”
–Jordan Glassberg ’12

“I met Anne at Johns Hopkins in 2009 during a team meeting to prepare for a summer bicycle trek from Baltimore to San Francisco. Our mission was to raise funds, spread awareness, and foster hope in the fight against cancer, and Anne took on the duty of managing our communications, raising the profile of our organization’s commitment to serve the cause of cancer awareness and prevention. The first few days of cycling snake through the Appalachians—dizzying ascents, sweltering humidity, and aggressive drivers are but a few of the obstacles. Not once would Anne speak oft-heard complaints. Pummeled by heat, lightning, hail, or downpours, Anne pedaled with determination, with a resilience to honor those we met along the way and for the memory of her grandfather, for whom she dedicated her ride. It was obvious we were in the presence of someone extraordinary.”
–excerpted from an op-ed article written by Raffi Joe Wartanian ’08, and published in The Baltimore Sun.

“Anne was such a good listener—she had a real talent for making people feel special and important. I remember how she used to laugh at my jokes (even the stupid ones) as if they were really hilarious. She was so easy to get along with and open up to. I still can’t believe what has happened to her.”
–Esther Bochner Schwalb ‘08