By Eli Francovich
Caitlin, Blake and Matthew Finnerty stand in a giant wagon. Their sister Megan, below, gamely tries to haul the wagon forward. The three up top laugh self-consciously and throw leaves at each other. The camera shutter clicks.
Meet the Finnertys. Walking around campus, wearing matching white shirts and blue jeans, they’re a spectacle. But one that everyone seems to love. “It’s the Finnertys,” someone calls out while biking.
It’s obvious they’re siblings. They have similar mannerisms and nearly the same smile. When they are together, the conversation is seamless – they rarely interrupt each other, yet the discussion never lags.
“It just feels like you’re at home,” said Caitlin Finnerty. “Like home travels with you.”
Well, for the Finnertys home does come with them – this clan from Scottsdale, Ariz., all attend Gonzaga. They’ve been told this is a first. Caitlin is a senior, Blake a junior and twins Matthew and Megan are sophomores.
“We all have different strengths and different weakness and we kind of build of each other,” Caitlin said. “You know we’re good enough friends that we call each other out if we’re in the wrong on something. We’re not going to bullshit each other.”
Their friendship gives them a unique opportunity – to enjoy each other’s friends, despite their range of ages. “The closeness of the upper classmen to the lower classmen, you don’t really see that normally,” Mathew said.
Although they had different reasons for coming to Gonzaga, the small class size and Jesuit values appealed to all. “We were always the type of family that went to church on Sunday,” Megan said.
Still they’ve each struck out in their own ways. They’re involved in different things, which in the end brings them closer.
“Their personalities are so diverse from one another that they never felt like they were in the shadow of each other,” said their mom Lori Finnerty.
Lori doesn’t remember their childhood as particularly difficult, although it was a lot having four children all within two and a half years of each other. When they brought the twins home, they set them on the floor. Immediately Blake, who was 13 months old, crawled over and bit Matthew’s foot.
“My husband and I just shook our heads,” she said.
Having four children all in school translates a chunk of tuition, though all four Finnerty children have academic scholarships. Their family tuition break works this way. The first child pays 100 percent, the second 90 percent, third 80 percent and the fourth 70 percent. Lori said that when they first approached the registrar’s office no one really knew how the much the fourth child would pay.
But it’s well worth the expense. “It’s changed their college experience hugely. It has definitely cemented their relationship,” she said. “They stick together.”
That has been the best aspect of the Finnertys all choosing Gonzaga. They eat lunch regularly, text constantly and even swing dance together. When one of them is having a hard time, or debating a difficult decision or even dating a new person, they all chime in.
“Obviously, it has worked out for all us,” Caitlin said. “Because we all have our own groups, and activities but in the end we all come back together.”