Two generations of Concordia friends: Paul, Kerri, and Emily Gnan, and Bekah, Val, and Mark Moran

Perhaps Emily Gnan and Bekah Moran had a genetic predisposition to becoming friends.

The two didn’t know it when they sat next to each other in class freshman year that their parents had been friends at Concordia decades earlier.

Kerri (Rolf) Gnan (’89) first met Val (Timler) Moran (’87) because the two lived across from one another in Wartburg Hall. Kerri came to know Val’s future husband, Mark Moran (’87), through their mutual jobs as student workers in the cafeteria. And when Kerri’s high school sweetheart, Paul Gnan (’90), came to Concordia, he too easily joined the fold.

The four friends lost touch after graduation, even though they all found themselves working at Lutheran schools, even eventually within the state. It wasn’t until Bekah tagged Emily in a photo on Facebook four years ago and Kerri spotted Bekah’s last name that the families began to piece the whole situation together.

“It’s just crazy to think now that our children became friends and eventually roommates in college,” Kerri said. “I really was in amazement when I learned the connection. It was such a God thing.”

During their first class together freshman year, Bekah easily persuaded Emily to join Concordia’s Business Scholars program. The Batterman School of Business program allows high-achieving freshmen the chance to earn their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in business administration in four years instead of the six or more it would otherwise take—and they get to do it for the price of just one degree.

Related: Learn more about Concordia’s Business Scholars program.

Thanks to Business Scholars and their shared program choices (both majored in marketing with a hospitality and event management minor), the two took on very similar paths during their time at Concordia, and even participated in numerous extra-curriculars together. On Friday, May 17, the two participated in their final Concordia activity together: graduate commencement ceremony. Their parents were of course there to help them celebrate—one of many opportunities the Gnans and Morans have had over the past four years to reunite and reestablish their friendships.

Even though Emily and Bekah will take up residence in different states post-commencement, they plan to keep their friendship strong. Emily has a job as a wedding services manager for The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, and Bekah has an opportunity to work with women who have been trafficked for an organization in Columbus, Ohio, called Freedom a la Cart.

And who knows? Perhaps they, like their parents, will find themselves together again on Concordia’s campus someday.

“Maybe our kids will go to Concordia at the same time,” Emily said with a laugh. “We’ll see.”

Meet more May 2019 uncommon grads

Emily Gnan and Bekah Moran are just two of the more than 1,200 graduates who celebrated the completion of their degrees at Concordia University Wisconsin this weekend.

Click on the links below to explore more stories about just a few of Concordia’s May 2019 graduates.

Morgan Marnholtz

Bachelor’s in Education

Morgan will follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a teacher at St. James Lutheran School in Shawano. She’s wanted to become a teacher since she was in Kindergarten—we have the photo to prove it! Read more here.


Emily Bengsch

Bachelor’s in Parish Music, Director of Church Ministries Minor

Two teachers told Lindsey Bengsch that a career in music wasn’t worth pursuing, but it didn’t stop Lindsey for pursuing a degree in parish music and landing a job before she even graduated. Read more here.


Rocky Naik

MBA, concentrations in Sustainability Management & Analytics and Management

Rocky finished a remarkable 49 credits in 2017-18 to earn his bachelor’s, and then took an accelerated track to earn his MBA in one year. Read more here.


Claudia Zastrow will graduate with her degree in communication sciences and disorders from Concordia.Claudia Zastrow

Bachelor’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Claudia overcame learning disabilities and anxiety to obtain her bachelor’s and pursue her dream of becoming a speech-language pathologist. She’ll join CUW’s inaugural master’s SLP cohort this summer. Read more here.


Nicholas Lustek

Adult Accelerated Bachelor’s in Nursing

Nick was among Concordia’s inaugural cohort of adult accelerated BSN graduates and he’s already landed his dream job as a nurse in the transplant ICU at Froedtert. Read more here.


Hiwot Abebe

Doctor of Pharmacy

Hiwot is the first CUW pharmacy grad to match to a post-graduate fellowship program. Her fellowship is with Eli Lilly. Read more here.


Andi Devereaux

Doctor of Pharmacy

Andi’s love of organic chemistry and her passion for changing the field of substance abuse and pain medication have led to extraordinary outcomes. Read more here.


Jordan Ireland

Criminal Justice

Concordia was fortunate to have such a phenomenal student-athlete to compete in acrobatics and tumbling for the university. Jordan, who has been tumbling since she was 3 years old, was drawn to CUW because of its sense of community after considering several schools that recruited her for her athletic abilities. Read more here.

Thomas Spangenberg

Physician Assistant Studies

Last summer, the recent PA graduate was honored by the Caledonia Police Department for performing CPR on a motorcyclist involved in an accident. Read more here.


Tessa Pariseau


Tessa shares the experiences that capture the richness and depth of the interplay between faith and education as it relates to her future in nursing. In her featured article, Tessa shares how Concordia has prepared her to go about its mission and her own nursing endeavors. Read more here.

Rachel Erdmann


Rachel Erdmann is a graduate pursuing her dreams to become a registered nurse. Concordia has allowed her to integrate faith as she provides care to different individuals. Concordia has given her a solid foundation to pursue her chosen vocation and live life in service to Christ. Read more here.

Jackie DeWerff

Secondary Education, Mathematics

Jackie was one of the many CUW students who took advantage of Route 38, which allowed her to graduate in just three years. Read more here.


Ethan Danz


Ethan is moving on after CUW with an entrepreneurial mindset. His business, Capture Productions, gained momentum after her and his partner competed in CUW’s CU Launch competition. Read more here.

Jenae Vandehei


Jenae spent her last semester shadowing OR nurses, an area that’s personal to her. She was featured on TMJ4 news as part of a segment that featured what Concordia is doing to help fill the gap of sorely needed OR nurses. Read more here.

Connor Teske


Conner was recognized as one our standout Lutheran high alums during National Lutheran Schools Week. Lake County High School kindled Connor’s faith and gave him the foundation needed to excel in the CUW School of Business. Read more here. 


Rebecca Hasbani


Rebecca has played an integral role in CUW’s psychology department and its many events, including an anti-bullying conference. Read more here.


Jonathan Schlecht

Lutheran Secondary Education, Mathematics, Theology

Jonathan earned the title of Concordia’s April 2019 Student of the Month. Read more here.


Kristin Van Ess

Interior Architecture & Design

Kristin was one of CUW’s exemplary art students featured in the senior art exhibition, “Born to Create.” Read more here.


Michelle Wolf

Actuarial Science, Accounting

Michelle, the chief academic officer of the Student Government Association, graduated this May with the “Quantitative Business Student of the Year” award for 2019 under her belt. Read more here.


— This story is written by Kali Thiel, director of university communications for Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor. She may be reached at or 262-243-2149.

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