Family and friends gathered this evening, to celebrate the life of the UNCW grad who died in a weekend fire. A memorial for 23 year old Rory Michaelson was held on campus Thursday evening. "I was so proud to be rory's sister, and that she called me hers," Courtney Michaelson said, "Nothing made me happier than when she was accomplishing her goals, and when she was happy." That's how 23 year old Rory Michaelson's family and friends remembered her. She was a happy young woman, who took on life's challenges with enthusiasm and humor. "Remember her smile that lit up the room, remember the love she had for each and everyone of us and how forgiving she was," Rory's friend, Richard Oetter said. Michaelson's life was cut short by an early morning weekend fire at the Cypress Point apartments in Wilmington. She was a recent graduate of the UNCW Watson School of Education where she was a stand-out among her classmates. "Rory, from all of us in the Watson School, we will always remember and miss you," Rory's internship coordinator, Carol Chase Thomas said. Recognizing her accomplishments in education, the school gave each of her parents a copy of Rory's diploma. Before graduating, Rory Michaelson was a student teacher at Gregory Elementary School in Wilmington. There, she left her mark on both teachers and kids alike. "She loved teaching, and she loved helping students learn. she loved her students, she was a blessing sent to us," Harriet Coe, Rory's Mentor, said. Gregory Elementary, where Rory did her student teaching, is planting a garden in her memory. There's no telling how many lives she would have touched, as she was set to begin her career as a special education teacher in New Bern next month, but those she left behind proved she had already touched so many. The Wilmington Fire Department says the fire at the apartment complex was accidental, started by an improperly discarded cigarette.
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