July was supposed to have marked the start of Liu Wei's new life.
With more than six million other students across China, the 21-year-old was due to graduate from college this month.
For Miss Liu, the daughter of poor farmers, a degree was to be her passport out of a life of poverty, a way to escape working in the fields, or toiling as a humble migrant worker in a far-off factory in southern China.
But her dream of making the huge leap from farm girl to college graduate will never become reality. Deeply depressed and ashamed about her failure to find a job to take up when she graduated, and consumed with guilt about the financial sacrifices her family had made for her, Miss Liu brought her studies and her life to a premature end by drowning herself in a ditch full of freezing, filthy water.
"She did it because she was worried she wouldn't be able to find a job and so she wouldn't be able to repay us," her grief-stricken father, Liu Shangyun, told The Sunday Telegraph. His eyes were downcast as he recalled how he saw her alive for the last time, just two weeks before her death.