D'Avino, 29, was killed in Friday's school attack just days after her boyfriend asked her parents for her hand in marriage, according to relatives and colleagues. In addition, she was preparing to take a graduate certification exam.
D'Avino, a Bethlehem, Conn., resident, had been a teacher's aide at Sandy Hook Elementary School for just over a week when Adam Lanza burst in and killed 26 people, including D'Avino, her aunt, Christine Carmody of Lutz, Fla., told Fox 13 News in Tampa Bay.
She said her niece loved children and loved to help them develop into healthy, happy adults.
D'Avino's boyfriend had planned to propose to her on Christmas Eve, Carmody told the news station.
D'Avino "had just completed her course work to sit for her certification exam on Wednesday" at University of Saint Joseph, John Molteni, director of the Institute for Autism and Behavioral Studies, said in a Facebook post Saturday.
"She was a paraprofessional working with a student with special needs, something she had dedicated her life to doing," the post reads.
An anonymous college friend told the Los Angeles Times that D'Avino "was one of the funniest, loudest, happiest people ever."
D'Avino's Facebook page is under the name Rachel Marie. Her page decorated in pictures related to the "Star Wars" movie franchise.