Scholarship to honor memory of Adia Palmer

In loving memory of student Adia J. Palmer, the University of Detroit Mercy has founded the Adia J. Palmer Memorial Scholarship Fund to celebrate her talents and to continue her legacy as a shining light and scholar for future students to come.

Since her unexpected passing in March 2022, the University of Detroit Mercy community has been left in a state of mourning and disbelief. Palmer is remembered as a loving friend, bright student and creative person. Her love for reading, writing and service work, radiated through her wholehearted commitment as a member of the Varsity News staff, library student-assistant, and active intern with Titan Equity Nourish Network (TENN). She was a senior, majoring in Communication Studies.

The scholarship has been established to assist University of Detroit Mercy students facing financial challenges, who have served as a library assistant, Varsity News staff or TENN volunteer for at least one year. Furthermore, students studying Performing Arts or Communication Studies may also qualify as a scholarship recipient. The scholarship is intended to help students cover academic costs outside of tuition, such as textbooks, supplies and lab fees.

Amy Keyzer, administrative assistant to the Dean of Libraries, first met Adia Palmer in 2017, a year before she started at the University, when she was a cohort of the Rhonda Walker Foundation’s (RWF) “Girls into Women” program.

For many years, Keyzer has worked with Vivian Palmer, Adia’s mother, at the McNichols Campus library. Both Adia Palmer and Vivian Palmer shared a deep enthusiasm for uniting their communities together. 

“Vivian had rallied her library colleagues to come out and support the RWF, and the mentoring program founded to empower inner city teen girls in Detroit,” Keyzer said.

When Adia started as a first-year student at the University, Keyzer explained that she “also joined the McNichols Campus Library family as one of our student-assistants.”

Keyzer collaborated with Vivian Palmer to help form the scholarship. 

“Vivian was insistent that the scholarship be used for essentials that are not covered by tuition, such as books and lab fees,” Keyzer continued. “We hope that an award dedicated for this purpose will help relieve some of that stress, and help balance the student’s budget. Also, we plan to continue our fundraising efforts in the hope of sustaining the scholarship fund for several years, if not in perpetuity.”

Rebecca Tull, assistant library professor at the McNichols Campus Library, also assisted in creating the scholarship alongside Keyzer and Vivian Palmer. Tull bonded with Adia Palmer after spending a lot of time together at the library. She hopes that the memorial scholarship will highlight the love and affection that everyone had for Adia Palmer.

“It is a way to honor Adia’s legacy, and really the light she brought to our library community and, as we have come to realize, many other campus communities and local groups,” Tull said. “She was a steady, centered presence in the library, and a caring, curious, and creative person, thoughtful but with a good sense of humor that she could surprise you with.”

Cynthia Langham, associate professor and department chair of Communication Studies, knew Adia Palmer as a student, and was devastated upon learning of her passing. 

“It was a total shock,” Langham said. “I had just seen her in class that morning.”

Langham helped place Palmer in her internship with TENN after reading an insightful, full-length article she had written for the Varsity News on food sustainability in relation to Eastern Market. Langham envisions the scholarship as a lasting tribute and reminder to future students of Palmer’s talent and love for writing.

“I hope it would honor her, not only her memory, but her excitement for writing because she was a very gifted writer,” Langham said. “The emphasis for students to get involved in writing about things they are passionate about for the Varsity News – that would be something I would consider upon recommending students to apply for the scholarship.”

Starting Dec. 2023, the scholarship will be annually awarded to University of Detroit Mercy students in remembrance of Palmer. Applications will be accepted until Nov. 27, 2023.