Memorial held for slain Philadelphia grad student

CENTER CITY (WPVI) -- It was a standing room only crowd at the Art Institute of Philadelphia to honor the memory of 23-year-old grad student Laura Araujo.

"It's heartbreaking. I tell everybody I wish we were doing Laura's wedding instead of this memorial," Professor Emil DeJohn said.

It seems students and faculty spared no expense with beautiful white roses and candles everywhere.

"The kids actually sold cupcakes and homemade pastries to raise money to buy the beautiful flowers," DeJohn said.

They were also very generous in their heartfelt words of tribute.

"Laura was a shining example of strength and integrity for those around her. She wanted to show people that they had the same potential for strength, leadership, and integrity," Professor Ralph Stewart said.

"She's one of the best friends I ever had and Laura will forever be in our hearts," friend Chastity Johnson said.

Laura Araujo was murdered in July. Her body was found stuffed in a duffel bag in Kensington.

Police would later charge a neighbor in Mantua, 22-year-old Jeremiah Jakson, in the killing and setting her car on fire.

Investigators say Araujo had only lived at 40th and Brown for a week and was about to move because she felt uncomfortable.

On Tuesday night, her parents flew in from Oklahoma for the memorial service.

Our own Dave Roberts, now retired from Action News, read a proclamation from the City of Philadelphia.

"In her memory, we mentor the talent and safeguard the future of the next generation of Philadelphia's citizens," Roberts read.

To hear classmates and faculty tell it, Laura Araujo had a promising career ahead of her.

"Laura had a job that she could have gone to and then this tragic thing ended and it broke our hearts," DeJohn said.

Friends and family wanted the focus on this night to be not on the pain they share, but on the joy the grad student brought them. It seems that losing her was not just a loss for her family, but for many at the Art Institute of Philadelphia.
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