The daughter of a Kiwi man killed in the September 11 terror attacks says her loss is a central part of her identity and the reason she is becoming a psychologist.

Sonali Beaven, now 20, was 5 when her environmental lawyer father Alan Beaven was killed on board United Flight 93 which crashed in a Pennsylvania field after hijackers took control of the plane.

Crew and passengers struggled to regain control of the plane and her father's remains were found in the cockpit.

In a CNN series called The 9/11 children: What can they teach us?, Beaven told of how losing her father in such a high profile incident has shaped her life.


The series was published in the lead up to the 15th anniversary of the terror attack.

"Our loss was a national loss and in that, a lot of individual identity and pain was ignored. I felt that not many therapists I saw could understand that," she said.

"I commend everyone for the rage and grief that they felt on our behalf. But I now have learned the value in claiming my own loss and I want to help people feel that power and relief."

Sonali Beaven, now 20, was 5 when her father died and says the loss has shaped her life. Photo/ Facebook
Sonali Beaven, now 20, was 5 when her father died and says the loss has shaped her life. Photo/ Facebook

Because of her loss, Beaven said she chose "life and love" every day and refuses to let fear or hate hold her back.

Her life ambition was to support people through depression and post-traumatic stress and she hoped to become an adolescent clinical psychologist, Beaven told CNN.

"I hope to ... give teenagers and young adults a platform for discussion. I want to be a person they feel safe confiding in."

It was not until recently Beaven realised she needed to personalise her father's death, which was in many ways public and national.

"The world grieved for my loss and will not forget.

"But it wasn't until I was 17 that I realised how personal what I had gone through was, too.

I had to grieve my personal loss and remember the individual identity of my father in order to release the national grief I felt."

Nearly 3000 people died in the 2001 attacks when four planes flying above the United States were hijacked by terrorist.

Two planes were flown into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York.

Another was crashed into the Pentagon, the country's top military building, in Washington DC.

The fourth plane, the one Beaven's father was on, crashed into a field 80 miles from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.