A professor at the University of Waterloo who taught Andrei Anghel, the sole Canadian who died in the Malaysia Airlines crash on Thursday, says he remembers the young man as an ambitious and curious student.

The plane crashed in eastern Ukraine on Thursday, killing all 298 people on board. The Ukrainian government said the Malaysia Airlines flight was shot down.

The government in Kyiv and pro-Russia separatists fighting in Ukraine's eastern region both denied being responsible for bringing down the plane.

Anghel, a 24-year-old University of Waterloo graduate from Ajax, Ont., was the lone Canadian to die in the crash.

Brian Dixon, who is with the university’s department of biology, says Anghel was a student in his immunology class during the winter of 2012.

“Andrei was a very keen student. He sat in the second row, he always had his hand up, he was always asking questions,” said Dixon. “He came to my office for extra help. He asked a lot of questions, a lot of questions that were outside the course material. He was very interested in cancer and human disease in general.”

Prof Dixon

Brian Dixon described Anghel as an eager student who had many questions beyond regular course material. He also says he wrote a letter of recommendation for Anghel's application to medical school in Romania. (Matthew Kang/CBC)

Dixon says Anghel dreamed of entering medical school, but getting accepted was not easy.

“There was a point where he didn’t think he was going to get in,” said Dixon. “He emailed me and talked about how he was going to take a job out west and take a year off and think about his life.”

Dixon says he wrote Anghel a letter of recommendation as part of the student's application to Iuliu Hatieganu University of Medicine and Pharmacy in Romania. Anghel later emailed Dixon to tell him he had been accepted.

“When I found out it was him on the plane, I was saddened that after all that build up and all that work and getting his dream, it was taken away from him,” said Dixon.

Anghel was en route to Bali, Indonesia, to celebrate the completion of his second year of medical school. He was travelling with his German girlfriend, according to his sister, Alexandra.