Guildford Centre

Maurine Arogie found direction in her life at the Guildford Centre in Surrey, a former teacher says. (Vancouver School Board)

A teacher close to the woman who plunged to her death from a Surrey highrise says Maurine Arogie had led a difficult life but was turning things around.

Arogie, also known as Maurine Rinny, 19, died New Year's Day on impact after falling 26 storeys.

Anna Hittrich, a teacher at the Guildford Learning Centre, remembered Arogie coming into the school as a tough kid, but said that Arogie found direction at the alternative school and graduated in June.

'She loved working with the elderly." — Anna Hittrich

"So she came from a place where she had a rough start as a teenager and not an easy childhood, but really found where she wanted to go in life," Hittrich told CBC News. "So the tragedy of her death really is huge and it's a big loss."

Hittritch said Arogie discovered her passion while doing a program with seniors

"She loved, loved, loved working with the elderly," Hittrich said. "She was in the process this year of taking a nursing program where she could work in the geriatric field."

Julie Chic, a counsellor at Guildford, said Arogie "had plans, and I know that she 's been through a lot of rough years on her own and it just felt like her life was turning around."

Arogie was named student of the month twice in 2013, and Chic said staff at the school are devastated by her loss.

"I think about what it must have been like... to fall all those feet," Chic said. "It's really overwhelming you know."

The Integrated Homicide Investigation Team continues to investigate the incident.

Sgt. Adam MacIntosh of IHIT said members of the Surrey RCMP were on their way to the apartment on the 13000 block of 100 Avenue about 1 a.m. PT on Jan. 1 to respond to a call about a domestic dispute, when Arogie fell from the building.

Police had been called to the same apartment near King George SkyTrain Station several several times under similar circumstances, MacIntosh said.

"Whether or not that is a factor in why she ultimately ended up falling are subject to investigation," MacIntosh said. "The nature and circumstances are suspicious."