Mike and Mary Durkin did not choose University of Detroit or Mercy College of Detroit several decades ago when they were looking at colleges. Yet the universities played an important role in their lives and the couple has honored that role with a substantial scholarship to University of Detroit Mercy.
Both Mike’s father, Richard (Dick) Durkin ’54, and Mary’s father Francis E. Baker Sr. ’50 are University of Detroit alumni and Dick Durkin was a big supporter of Jesuits throughout his life.
“So, we’ve known about the importance of Jesuit education our whole lives,” Mike said. The two work for General Motors Customer Care and Aftersales, he in Dealer Warranty and Service Operations and she in Global Aftersales Operations.
In 2002, Mike’s mother, Patricia, got ill and was hospitalized for four weeks.
“The nurses who cared for her were like angels,” Mary said. “She was so pleased with the way they cared for her; she gave them all angel pins.”
The illness was too much, and Patricia passed away. In the aftermath, Dick said he wanted to create a lasting memory of his wife in the form of a scholarship for nursing students. And Detroit Mercy, with its commitment to training healthcare workers in the traditions of the Religious Sisters of Mercy, came immediately to mind.
The family created the Patricia L. Durkin Memorial Scholarship Fund for students from the Detroit area, with a history of Catholic education, who were interested in going into nursing. Though the scholarship was funded mostly by members of the family, donations from friends and others built up the fund, which helped students afford the tuition at Detroit Mercy.
In 2017, Dick Durkin also passed away and the family wanted to honor him in a similar way. Family members renamed the scholarship to the Richard E. and Patricia L. Durkin Memorial Scholarship Fund and made a large contribution.
Another important move they made was to move a large portion of the scholarship’s funds to an endowment, which creates a scholarship that will provide funding for nursing students in perpetuity.
The Durkin’s seven children continue to contribute to the scholarship, Mary said, adding that “the kids use it as a way to remember their grandma and grandpa.”
The COVID-19 pandemic has, once again, proven the importance of well-trained healthcare workers, the Durkin’s said.
“It takes a special person to work in that field, especially now,” Mary said. “They are unsung heroes, and we hope that this scholarship helps get these angels the education they need to do this work.”