Kayla Mueller, the U.S. aid worker who was recently been confirmed dead, leaves behind a legacy of helping others around the globe.

Who Was Kayla Mueller

Though there’s been no confirmation as to how Mueller died, it has been reported that she was killed when airstrikes conducted by Jordan – which is in the U.S. coalition against ISIS – hit the Syrian building in which she was being held.  Many, including Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby, are skeptical of such claims due to the unreliability of the source.

“We are heartbroken to share that we’ve received confirmation that Kayla Jean Mueller has lost her life,” a statement from the family reads, reported CNN. “Kayla was a compassionate and devoted humanitarian. She dedicated the whole of her young life to helping those in need of freedom, justice, and peace.”

In high school, Mueller, destined for humanitarian work, received the Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award for her volunteer work, which included AmeriCorps, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Open Inn and a number of other organizations. From high school, Mueller went on to attend Northern Arizona University, graduating with a degree in political science in 2009.

Following her high school graduation, Mueller headed to northern India to work with humanitarian aid groups. She also spent time doing aid work in the Palestinian territories and Israel before a short stint in France as a nanny to learn French in preparation for heading to Africa.

By 2012, Mueller had started working with Syrian refugees on the Turkish/Syrian border with Support to Life and the Danish Refugee Council. On Aug. 2013, Mueller was leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital following an extended visit with a friend working there when she was taken captive along with her Syrian boyfriend. The boyfriend was ultimately freed and tried to go back to plead for her freedom to no avail.

Mueller was the fourth American hostage killed in ISIS captivity, joining James Foley, Steven Sotloff and Peter Kassig. In response to the latest tragedy, President Barack Obama has pledged to seek justice.

“No matter how long it takes, the United States will find and bring to justice the terrorists who are responsible for Kayla’s captivity and death,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House. “ISIL is a hateful and abhorrent terrorist group whose actions stand in stark contrast to the spirit of people like Kayla.”

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