Kelly Ann Hillgrove, 35, a senior at C.U. majoring in ethnic studies and a hairstylist from Boulder, was swept away by the waves of the Asian Tsunami while vacationing with her fiance in Sri Lanka. Her body was found holding onto the hand of a small child who also had drowned.

Hillgrove, a hair stylist who attended the University of Colorado and Fairview High School, grew up in Thomaston, Maine, and moved with her family to Colorado 20 years ago. She was pursuing an ethnic studies degree at CU, in between her full-time job and volunteering for the Boulder County AIDS Project, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Navajo Nation and the Southern Poverty Law Center. “She truly believed that one person can and must try to make the world a better place,” said a friend, Alex Bruckman of Lafayette. “She traveled to different reaches of the world to better understand what her part would be.” Hillgrove met her fiance, a Parisian schoolteacher, while on a trip to Guatemala. “She constantly had a smile on her face,” her brother said. “She made an impression on everyone she touched.”

A memorial service for Kelly Hillgrove will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 2, in Muenzinger Psychology Building room 050 on the CU-Boulder campus. Rest in Peace, Kelly.