The Chicago Sun-Times reports mourners gathered at Weinstein Funeral Home in Wilmette Wednesday to remember 27-year-old Lexie Kamerman.
She was one of 21 people who were killed last week during a suicide bombing and gun attack at a Kabul restaurant popular with foreigners.
Kamerman was working as a student development specialist at the American University of Afghanistan, helping women get an education.
She graduated from the Latin School of Chicago and Knox College in Galesburg.
Kamerman's mother Ali Pohn, who said peaking at the memorial, she wants her daughter's legacy to remind others to move beyond fear so they can follow their passion.
Kamerman's family Saturday night issued a statement saying she was "an amazing young woman, smart, strong, beautiful, funny, stubborn and kind. And fearless." Her friends may have been apprehensive, but they knew of her determination to make things better.
"That's what she went to Kabul for," said Sherille Lamb. "She wanted to work at the Laura Bush school for young ladies and help them with their education and inspire them to live their dreams."
She was an all-conference water polo player in college, later going to work for the Collegiate Water Polo Association where friend Ed Haas called Kamerman "the best of the best."
"She was motivated to make sure everyone was treated equally, everyone got their fair shake," said Haas. "I think the world has lost something that is very tough to replace."
Kamerman's death comes nine months after a car bombing in southern Afghanistan took the life of Anne Smedinghoff, a River Forest native and United States embassy press officer, who was killed while helping deliver books to a school.
Kamerman started last June with American University. She was home for the holidays with family in Chicago, and had returned to Kabul.
In their statement, Kamerman's family says, "We can't imagine a moment going forward when she won't be desperately missed."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.