June 16, 2017
Nara Gonczigsuren poses with University of Detroit Mercy President Antoine M. Garibaldi.

To those familiar with her accomplishments, it shouldn’t come as a great surprise that Nara Gonczigsuren was named this year’s undergraduate Vivere ex Missione Award winner.

The honor, presented at commencement to a graduating student who best exemplifies the mission of University of Detroit Mercy, seems like a natural fit for Gonczigsuren, a biology major and leadership minor. During her time at the University, she participated in service immersion trips, coordinated a six-week summer enrichment program for minority students interested in pursuing dental careers, and volunteered for organizations like The Humanitarian Alliance of Michigan, World Medical Relief and Children’s Hospital of Michigan, just to name a few.

But even with all this charitable work under her belt, Gonczigsuren was shocked when her name was announced.

“I would pay good money to see footage of my face,” she said. “I remember… looking around in confusion, making sure those around me heard the same thing.”

By the time she made her way to the podium, she was holding back happy tears as she thought about the people who had played a role in her receiving the award. “It was a very special moment for my loved ones and me,” she said. “I cannot think of a better way to complete my undergraduate journey.”

It’s a journey that has exceeded her expectations.  As a high school student, she chose Detroit Mercy for its academic programs, but she didn’t realize at the time that so many of her favorite parts of college would take place outside of the classroom.

“My favorite experiences at Detroit Mercy have consisted of meeting all the right people through participating in organizations that mean a lot to me, like Residence Life, University Ministry, the Pre-Dental Student Association, the Emerging Leaders Program, the Muslim Student Association, Spectrum, etc.,” she said. “Being a resident advisor has taught me some valuable life lessons that I do not think I would have came across otherwise. Being a service trip leader gave me the wonderful opportunity to advocate for various causes in cities across the country. All of these organizations allowed me to recognize my potential and meet those who share my love for making a change. These experiences have fueled my passion for service and overall social justice, which I intend to commit my career to.”

Now, with her undergraduate years behind her, Gonczigsuren will enjoy her summer — “my first summer ‘vacation’ in a couple of years,” she said — before moving on to her next adventure.

This is the first year Vivere ex Missione Awards were given to both undergraduate and graduate students at the McNichols Commencement. Sarah Cornwell was the graduate winner.

— By Amelia Skimin. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.