An Unexpected Reply

Earlier this year, Marissa Harvey (’15) wrote a letter about her experience as a scholarship recipient in the Gonzaga Scholars Program. Her mother battled cancer twice and was unable to work, which could have drastically affected Marissa’s ambitions. Thanks to the Gonzaga Scholars Program, Marissa was able to follow her dreams toward a degree and career in special education.

The hope was that Marissa’s letter would inspire others to contribute to the Gonzaga Scholars Program, so that other students with significant need could see their Gonzaga dreams realized; but, there came an unexpected result. Maria Lanahan (’09) found Marissa’s story so inspiring, she made a gift to the University and wrote a letter to Marissa, personally:

Hi Marissa,

Thank you for sending me your story about how you were able to go to Gonzaga because of the financial help you got from alumni donors. As a relatively recent graduate who has been inspired by your story, I wanted to write back (after I donated) and introduce myself.

Lanahan - Swearing InI am a graduate of the class of 2009. I was also a women’s basketball player for three years. I am now an attorney. Though I am working in Michigan for one of the Supreme Court Justices of the Michigan Supreme Court this year, I will soon be moving to St. Louis, Mo. with my husband, and we will both be working for law firms there. 

Because I’m a relatively recent grad, still paying back massive law school loans, the monetary amount I am able to give at this time is minimal. However, I am full of advice, particularly for those who are interested in going to law school. Regretfully, I do not know anyone who works in special education. Though, my cousin-in-law is a counselor (like a school counselor)…In short, if you know any other undergrads at GU who are interested in becoming attorneys and have questions, please feel free to forward them my contact information. And if you have any specific interests in a particular educational field, let me know and I’ll put you in touch with someone who fits the bill (provided I know someone like that!).

Good luck with the quest to become a special education teacher!


Maria Lanahan (’09)

If you would like to help support students through scholarships at Gonzaga, visit