Marquette grad, TV anchor dies shortly after leukemia diagnosis

CREATED Nov. 9, 2012 - UPDATED: Nov. 9, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- Marquette graduate Jeannie Hayes had a bright smile and a bright future as a TV news anchor, but her life was cut short soon after being diagnosed with leukemia.

The sudden death of a young alum from the Class of 2005 is being felt by those still on campus.

Whatever undefinable quality it takes to make it in TV news -- Jeannie Hayes had it.

Barb Volbrecht was one of Hayes' advisors at Marquette University, and knew she would go far.

"This student had something.  I mean, she was good," says Volbrecht.  "She walked in the door and she worked hard..."

But Jeannie Hayes died Thursday, just two days after doctors discovered the 29-year-old had aggressive leukemia.

Hayes got to live her dream, though.  She was a beloved anchor for the NBC station in Rockford, WREX.  Her megawatt smile was only matched by her determination.

"She would always ask me 'what can I do better, what can I do better?'...she was always looking for feedback and was always very focused on becoming an anchor," explains Volbrecht.

Over the last week, you could see something was wrong on her Twitter page.  Posts changed from messages about eating Halloween candy -- to fear.

"Sitting up hurts. Laying down hurts. Breathing hurts..." is how her final tweet begins.

Though her pain is not how those who knew this driven young woman will remember her.

"She was just always, always smiling..." remembers Volbrecht.  "...And very professional, yet kind and driven."

The current Marquette TV staff is now working on a way to keep her spirit alive.