(CBS) – A Chicago college student was dedicating her life and her future to helping those less fortunate – and paid with her life.

University of Illinois student Ashley Walls died in Brazil this week when a disease struck her down.

CBS 2’s Mike Parker reports.

Walls was described as an achiever.

“In just 29 years, she was able to accomplish what many only dare to accomplish in 79 and 89 years,” says Chandra Gill, Walls’ mentor.

“She had a quote: ‘Dream but don’t sleep,’” Gill adds. “So, I say, may she sleep and rest on, and we’ll continue to dream.”

Walls was a gifted student at the U of I at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees.

This week, she was working in the slums of Florianopolis, writing a thesis for her third master’s — this one on education and the disadvantaged. She suddenly became ill and died from an undisclosed illness.

She is the daughter of Chicago political activist William “Dock” Walls.

“The thing I will miss most about her is her smile. This is very, very hard to deal with,” the senior Walls said by telephone Thursday.

Walls was a leader in the university’s black alumnae association. That group, along with friends and family, are pledging to set up a scholarship fund in her name.

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