Vivere ex Missione winners display leadership, service and scholarship

The Vivere ex Missione awards are presented each year to four graduating students whose time at University of Detroit Mercy was marked by leadership, service and scholarship. Nominations are made by students, staff and faculty and the awardees are chosen by a committee of staff and faculty.

“Vivere ex Missione” means “to live the mission” and these students did just that as Detroit Mercy students. Below is the text of the citations each received with their honor:

Amber Abram, Undergraduate

Amber Abram accepts their award from Dr. Garibaldi.Servant leadership is a hallmark of a Detroit Mercy education, and it is a trait that defines Biology student Amber Abram’s undergraduate years. 

An excellent student in our ReBUILDetroit Program, Abram is also a welcoming, open presence at many on-campus programs. She is committed to advancing her academic development, professional career, leadership skills and knowledge of diversity-related topics through her participation in several programs dedicated to diversity and inclusion. 

As a mentor with the TRIO Student Support Services and The Writing Center’s Bridges Not Fences events, she shared her story of facing racism and the imposter syndrome she feels as a first-generation college student. She has worked with the University’s HIVE pantry and community gardens to address food equity issues. Amber is active with the Black Student Union, is a Presidential Ambassador and volunteered to care for the dying through a hospice organization. As a mentor at The Writing Center, she guided students to greater success by showing empathy, respect and patience. 

Additionally, she is an unassuming role model for all students through her work ethic, commitment to equity and compassion for all. 

Maureen Murphy, Graduate Student

Maureen Murphy accepts their award from Dr. Garibaldi.The healthcare worker of today needs to be an innovator and leader who sees the big picture and understands that there is more than one way to achieve the best outcome. Maureen Murphy, who graduates as a Doctor of Nursing Practice, is that person. 

Maureen has been working in healthcare since she earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree from Detroit Mercy in 1993. She is well-known and respected across the state for her work in school-based health centers because she shares the lessons learned by her compassionate approach to caring for patients.

As a nurse practitioner in the River Rouge community, she strives to minimize healthcare disparities as she cares for vulnerable adolescents. Her doctoral project uses an innovative model to address immunization access issues in that community. The project also provided food and other important resources for the clients. 

Maureen’s work begins with strong leadership skills in building a team whose members understand their roles and the unique needs of the community; care is given in the spirit of cultural humility. She is an advocate for families and engages policy makers at the local and state level to promote justice and ensure equitable resources. Her reputation has led to strong relationships within the nursing leadership community in southeastern Michigan and highlights the quality of a Detroit Mercy education. 

“I am thankful and full of gratitude to Detroit Mercy for all the support and mentorship with my journey through the doctorate of nursing practice,” Murphy said. “I have learned so much, and it has forever changed me. This mission style lamp given to me reminds us of the mission of the University. I hope always to keep their mission and my nursing practice forever intertwined.”

Deja Davis, Detroit Mercy Law

Deja Davis accepts their award from Dr. Garibaldi.Law school is a challenge for everyone who attends, and one student in the Class of 2021 made it her mission to ensure all students felt welcomed, represented and supported. Deja Davis is that student. 

An outstanding student who has performed well academically, Davis was executive director of outside competitions for Detroit Mercy Law’s Moot Court program, where she represented Detroit Mercy Law at competitions around the country. Davis’ dedication to this position earned her the Patrick A. Keenan Appellate Advocacy Tournament and the Moot Court Junior Member Appellate Advocacy Competition awards. 

In another leadership position, as president of the Black Law Students Association, Davis found ways to provide mentorship, coaching, and a sense of community to Black students at Detroit Mercy Law. A program she organized through the group resulted in a high placement of first-year students in a minority clerkship program through the Wolverine Bar Association in large metro-Detroit law firms and federal judges’ chambers. 

Deja was the student representative on Detroit Mercy Law’s Dean’s search committee, proving herself an advocate for the student body. She impressed the candidates by showing them what a Detroit Mercy Law student can be. Outside of school, she served as a law clerk at Lakeshore Legal Aid, where she worked on behalf of clients in family law, public assistance, unemployment and landlord tenant cases. 

For those reasons, University of Detroit Mercy is proud to award the 2021 Vivere ex Missione award for Detroit Mercy Law to Deja Davis. 

Steven Santarossa, Detroit Mercy Dental

Steven Santarossa accepts their award from Dr. Garibaldi.Detroit Mercy Dental strives to graduate dental professionals who have demonstrated they are leaders in the field of dentistry and socially conscious, caring members of society. Steven Santarossa is that student. 

Early on as a student, Santarossa was driven to expand his knowledge of his chosen specialty, oral surgery, by continuing research he began as an undergraduate in 4-D technology, so he could better understand certain conditions and provide care that improves patient outcomes. He tutors peers, is the academic chair of his dental fraternity and a mentor to dental students as they embark on research. While he is an exemplary practitioner, it is the concern and care for the world around him that makes Santarossa worthy of this recognition, though he would never seek it. 

Santarossa demonstrated leadership skills and expanded his cultural horizons by organizing dental volunteer trips to Guatemala and India. Closer to home, he dedicates himself fully to his community through his work. He is known for the care he takes to learn about his fellow students and his patients, demonstrating through his actions how to treat everyone with respect, and finding ways to bridge gaps that sometimes arise between patients and students. 

“This award is a true honor and a huge blessing to receive,” Santarossa said. “I am grateful for the many mentors, family and friends in my life that have supported my growth into a man deserving to receive this highest recognition. I plan to continue living out the mission of the University of Detroit Mercy in my future endeavors, beginning with my oral and maxillofacial surgery residency in Omaha, Nebraska. I wish to thank those who nominated me for this recognition and to the University for fostering my growth.”