A woman has told of her sadness after graduating without a friend who took her own life after she was abused by her boyfriend.
Emotional Laila Kennedy, 22, graduated from Aberdeen University yesterday with a 2:1 in LLB Law alongside her classmates.
But there was one person missing from the stage, her young friend Emily Drouet who was found dead in her halls of residence apartment after committing suicide.
Emily took her own life at the age of 18 after she was subjected to a campaign of abuse while studying the same course at university.
Her sudden death left her classmates devastated, however, Laila said it made her determined to go on and finish the course.
Laila said: “She was one of my friends, so that was a particularly difficult time that I had to go through.
“I also lost a family friend so suffered a lot of losses throughout the last four years. I found that particularly difficult to deal with, alongside studying for the degree.”
Laila, who is from Aberdeen, met Emily at an open day in 2015 before they started studying at the university.
She said it was the support of family and friends in the weeks and months after Emily’s death that got her through the law degree.
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Emily’s boyfriend Angus Milligan was later convicted after he pled guilty to assault and behaving in a threatening or abusive manner and ordered to carry out 180 hours of unpaid work when he appeared in court.
Laila said: “She was actually one of the reasons why I chose Aberdeen (to study at) because she was so friendly but also kind. She was a bit like me in terms of our nature.
“I just thought that we started together and we would finish together.
“I did it for her, as well for me. I was doing it for the both of us.
“It was about being determined and to push on to get good grades.”
Laila, who is a member of the committee for the Scottish Young Lawyers’ Association and the company treasurer for the Aberdeen Law Project, will return to the university in September to complete her diploma in legal practice.
She will start her traineeship with Aberdeen law firm Ledingham Chalmers next year, following an internship with the company.
Laila was celebrating her graduation by going out for dinner with her proud parents as well other family and friends last night at the Chester Hotel, where she works part-time.
She added: “My dad is a bubbler, the ceremony was really nerve-wracking and terrifying – it all happened so quickly. It was the walk up the stairs that was the issue. I am glad it all went well without me falling.”
Emily’s parents, Germain and Fiona Drouet, from Glasgow, have been campaigning for better support for students affected by gender-based violence since their daughter’s death.
The campaign #Emilytest is calling for increased funding for colleges and universities to support vulnerable students. Their petition can be signed by visiting: emilytest.co.uk