Richland County, SC (WLTX) -- Although no one knew the future for Almanita Smith, professors at Columbia College were sure it would be bright.
"I would describe her as bright, ambitious, accomplished. Just one who could be very, very successful in what she decided to do," said Dr. Doris Layton with Columbia College.
Almanita Smith, 26, served in the army and just graduated with her Master's in Education. She was set to go back to class to pursue another Master's. But professors knew something was wrong on the first day.
"She was the only one who had enrolled and did not show," said Dr. Chris Burkett, professor and head of the education division.
Richland County Deputies said a neighbor found Smith dead in the front lawn of her home. And the coroner said she had probably been dead for several days.
"You hear about such stories on the news," said Dr. Burkett, "but when all of a sudden that person's name becomes a face of somebody you interacted with in your life it becomes that much more real."
Smith's boyfriend, Marcus Bailey, has been charged with her murder. Sheriff Leon Lott said it could be ruled as domestic violence.
"I would have never put Almanita in a situation like that," he said. "I think, again, that speaks to how you never know what other people have going on in their lives."
Her professors constantly stressed how much potential Smith had.
"She had already given so much to our country and to everyone around her and had the potential to give so much more," Dr. Burkett said.
"I think she had so much potential. And was such a lovely person," Layton said. "Good things were in store for her."