Suzann Baricevic Murphy, Christina Friedhoff, Ceirah McCauley, Jane McGonigal and Megan O'Donnell Murphy all spoke at St. Mary's Academy's 2013 Food for Thought tuition assistance luncheon.
Suzann Baricevic Murphy, Christina Friedhoff, Ceirah McCauley, Jane McGonigal and Megan O'Donnell Murphy all spoke at St. Mary's Academy's 2013 Food for Thought tuition assistance luncheon.
St. Mary's Academy's 20th anniversary Food for Thought tuition assistance luncheon raised more than a half million dollars, a record for the event. The event brought 725 attendees to a downtown hotel to raise support for the all-girls school.

Financial aid provided by St. Mary's has increased more than 160 percent in the past decade. This year, 41 percent of students receive need-based aid, totaling nearly $1.4 million.

Perseverance was the theme of the stories shared at the 2013 luncheon, emceed by KGW anchor Brenda Braxton. Keynote speaker Jane McGonigal, creator of alternate reality games and author of "Reality Is Broken: How Games Make Us Better and How They Can Change The World." McGonigal discussed how she used gaming to recover from a traumatic brain injury.

The student speaker also surmounted challenges. Senior Ceirah McCauley found herself in an unstable housing situation last year, living in shelters and not knowing where she'd be sleeping from night-to-night, or how she'd pay for lunch. She said teachers and administrators helped.

"I think I'll be a better woman because I came here," McCauley said. "It helped me be more prepared for college and for the world. I know there will be a lot of obstacles when I leave, but St. Mary's has prepared me for that."