By: Liz Gelardi
INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – There’s an empty desk in the chemistry lab where Karlijn Keijzer spent many long hours. Her classmates and friends say their worst fears were confirmed when they learned Keijzer was on board the Malaysia Airlines plane that was shot down. Many learned the news through facebook where Keijzer’s sister confirmed she was on that flight with her boyfriend.
“You kind of hit that panic moment where you suddenly realize that your friends was very likely on that flight and it’s not just an international tragedy, she’s a real person and people love her,” said former roommate Rachel Weigler.
On all accounts Keijzer was loved by many, it wasn’t hard for her to make new friends. Originally from the Netherlands, she came to Indiana University on a rowing scholarship. Keijzer decided to stay at IU to continue her education. She was pursuing her doctorate in computational chemistry.
“One of the best things about Karlijn, she’s such a genuine person you don’t really meet people like that anymore. She is always honest with you, even if it was something you didn’t want to hear but you could always tell she cared very much,” said Weigler.
Keijer was part of a tight knit class, there are only six students in her PHD program. Her research focused on health. University officials said she was researching an anti-cancer drug seen as a promising treatment for Alzheimer’s Disease.
“I think Karlijn kind of provided the emotional balance for this lab a lot of the times, in terms of being able to say you’re having a bad day lets go get some food and talk about something other than chemistry for a while,” said classmate Doug Crandell.
She was a bright student and talented athlete. IU Rowing Coach Steve Peterson thought she had potential to compete in the Olympics. Keijzer was part of the rowing team during the 2010-2011 season. She helped carry the team to a 14-5 record while earning honors from the Collegiate Rowing Coaches Association and Scholar-Athlete as well as accolades from the Big Ten. Keijzer also participated in the European Rowing Junior Championships in 2006 and the World Rowing Junior Championships in 2007.
“She came to us for one year as a graduate student and truly wanted to pursue rowing. That year was the first year we really started to make a mark with the First Varsity 8 boat ans she was a huge reason for it. She was a phenomenal student loved IU so much that she stayed here after she earned her master’s degree. Our condolences go out to her family and friends in this very tough time,” said Peterson.