"She had the greatest sense of humor," Carmody said in a statement from the family. "She found humor in almost anything. She was almost like an actress and she loved dressing up when she was younger. She was a hoot."

Carmody also remembered Rachel's love for animals.

"She loved her dogs, but she also loved frogs, snakes and mice," Carmody said. "Not the animals most people like,"

She had been an intern at Sandy Hook for just over a week, according to an interview Fox 13 News in Tampa Bay had with Pastor Ken Whitten, the senior pastor at Carmody's church in Lutz, Fla.

Pastor Whitten says D'Avino's aunt is feeling pain over her loss. Carmody told him D'Avino's boyfriend had just asked her parents for her hand in marriage and was planning to propose on Christmas Eve.

"We will pray especially for Christine," Whitten added. "But we'll be praying for all of the victims of this senseless tragedy."

-- Jenny Wilson; Courant Staff Report

Statement from the family of Rachel Marie D'Avino:

"We are heartbroken over the loss of our beautiful daughter, sister, cousin and friend. Rachel was a true hero who died protecting the children she loved.

"We are thankful for the outpouring of love and support from our family, friends and neighbors."

Rachel's mother, Mary D'Avino, said she knew that one day Rachel would have the letters, Ph.D, following her name. Rachel was studying for her doctorate degree at University of St. Joseph's of Hartford.

"Now instead of 'Dr.' in front of her name, she'll have 'St.' in front of it. She's up there with those kids," Mary D'Avino said.

Mary D'Avino and Rachel's sisters, Hannah and Sarah, met with President Obama on Sunday in Newtown.

"It was just so beautiful," Mary D'Avino said of the ceremony. She said President met individually with each family and spent time talking to them.

Rachel's aunt, Christine Carmody, recalled her niece's love of laughter.

"She had the greatest sense of humor. She found humor in almost anything. She was almost like an actress and she loved dressing up when she was younger. She was a hoot."

Christine Carmody also recalled Rachel's love of animals.

"She loved her dogs, but she also loved frogs, snakes and mice – not the animals most people like," she said.

Christine Carmody said the family knew at a young age that Rachel would become an educator.

"She always wanted to work with kids."