People remember UI student who died overseas

By Amanda Porterfield |

Published 06/26 2014 10:10PM

Updated 06/27 2014 10:42AM

UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS -- People in the UI community are remembering a graduate student who died while studying abroad in Brazil.

"She knew so many people and touched so many lives," says Teresa Blanden, Delta Sigma Theta Chapter President.

Ashley Walls was a doctoral student, from Chicago, and very active on campus and the community. She died earlier this week from a disease that she most likely picked up overseas.

What killed Ashley Walls hasn't been confirmed, however, many of her friends said it's believed to be bacterial meningitis. Those close to the 29-year old are remembering her as someone who advocated on- and off-campus for any cause she believed in.

She was getting a PhD in Educational Policy Studies. Friends say she was in Brazil doing research and had only been in the country since the beginning of the month.

Walls was staying with a host family and, a few weeks after being there, she got sick. She died days later on Monday, June 23. It's just a shock to the many who knew her.

"She never met a stranger. Very kind-hearted, very warm and receptive to people. And people just took to her," says Blanden.

Sorority sister, Lauren Banks says, "She was really an awesome person. She always looked out for people. She was so loving. Be successful in the best way we know how. I think that's the best way we can live out her legacy is just to not give up."

One of Walls' goals was to improve working conditions for UI students, faculty and staff. Members of her Sorority Delta Sigma Theta say they are planning to organize some type of tribute. There is already a Facebook page to honor her. A scholarship will be created in her name.

Copyright 2016 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.