A brother-sister connection to Gonzaga and beyondBy Autumn Jones (’10)
When Kristina Lavrisha headed to Spokane in the fall of 2010 she had little knowledge that she carried with her a cylinder of opportunities. A mailing tube, secretly tucked into her suitcase before she left, contained two posters. Designed by her older brother Michael Lavrisha (’10), the posters detailed the “must dos” for her time in Spokane. Michael, now a software engineer for Trada, a tech startup company out of Boulder, Colo., took it upon himself to create posters of “128 Things To Do Before You Graduate,” a play on the 128 credits required for graduation. Michael listed all the things that you wouldn’t see on a transcript, but were part of the quintessential Gonzaga experience.
“To be honest, early in my GU career I really didn’t like Spokane,” Michael said. “However, as school went on and I explored the city more, I came across little, random bits of awesomeness: D Lish’s, Wild Walls, Fresh Abundance, Brown’s Edition, Gibliano Brothers dueling piano bar, the meaning of life (conveniently located on the Centennial Trail), Minnehaha, and on and on,” said Michael. “The summer before my sister’s freshman year, I found myself telling her all these thing she ‘just had to do’ at Gonzaga. So I decided to make a list.”
Michael asked for other suggestions from his classmates via Facebook and stayed up all night before Kristina left to create the posters. One listed the things that you could only do during certain years such as “run the serpentine” and “go on freshman retreat” during freshman year. The other displayed a hand-drawn map of Spokane with favorite locations called out, including Wild Walls and GU Look Great.
“I will never forget when I opened up my suitcase and found the tube,” said Kristina, now a sophomore. “I took the posters out, sat on my floor and looked at them for about an hour. At first I was shocked that Michael actually made the posters. It looked like he worked on them forever. There was so much detail, except I knew he made them when I noticed that he spelled “sophomore” wrong. That made me laugh because it was typical Michael. But, honestly, the fact that he made them meant more to me than any other gift he bought me before.”
While Michael’s lists include off-campus adventures, it is the opportunities he had as a student that hold an importance all their own. “Be aware of the ‘fixtures’ of Gonzaga and why they are there,” said Michael. “The Jesuits know what they are doing. They have distilled more than 400 years of education into what you are experiencing right now. Be open to the required classes. Stop and look at AJ (aluminum Jesus) between Welch and DeSmet or the pierced hand outside the Jes Res. Be a part of the camaraderie at the basketball games. Go to the Grind (once is enough). Play intramurals. Go on a retreat (especially if you aren’t religious). StudyAbroad. Volunteer for a service project. Finally, be aware that you are only there a short time; so savor every minute of it. Step out of yourself and become a part of something wonderful.”
When asked what he wishes for Kristina’s time at Gonzaga, Michael replied, “I hope that she will come out of Gonzaga being in greater union with God. Nothing else matters. If she can do this, I know she will be a humble, satisfied, confident and delightful woman. Who could hope for anything else?” With a couple detailed posters and support from her brother, Kristina will surely reach those unrequired 128. She might even double major.