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Be the Difference

College of Business Administration Award Recipients

YOUNG ALUMNA OF THE YEAR AWARD

SoSarah Willems Somers, Bus Ad ’02    
Lake Forest, Ill.

Sarah chose Marquette for the opportunities to grow both academically and spiritually while gaining a global perspective. Using her experiences as a springboard, she realized her lifelong dream of entrepreneurship.

For 16 years after graduation, Sarah worked in the financial industry in both New York and Chicago. Then in 2018, Sarah took the leap from her corporate office and started DESEDA, a personal accessories brand that also serves as a platform for supporting the arts. She partners with emerging artists from around the world to develop DESEDA’s product designs.

“I love the process of working with our collaborating artists and watching their creativity unfold in their designs,” says Sarah. “Every time, I learn new lessons about pushing perceived limitations and taking creative risks.”

In addition to running DESEDA, Sarah is dedicated to participating in her community as a member of the Lyon Family Foundation Hosier Ball Committee, which raises money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s efforts to fund research, find cures and ensure treatment access for blood cancer patients. Sarah, along with her husband, Ben, also is actively involved with the College of Business Campaign Executive Committee. 

Sarah defines success as being able to apply one’s values to all aspects of life – family, career and community involvement. Pursuing a “values-first” life takes commitment, focus and a willingness to make challenging trade-offs, but thoughtfully applying cura personalis, which she learned about at Marquette, centers everything she does and leads to rewarding outcomes.

Fun Fact:

Name a Marquette faculty or staff member who had an impact on you:
Dr. Brooks Holtom, former assistant professor of organizational behavior, had a meaningful imprint on my academic and personal development. Always stimulated by the personal dynamics and human side of business, I found the content of Dr. Holtom’s organizational behavior course fascinating.

The deeper takeaways and learning opportunities came when I was able to assist in his research efforts related to how organizations acquire, develop and retain human capital. It was a formative process to participate in the practical application of academic theory, and the outcomes of Dr. Holtom’s research were ultimately published in a major academic journal.