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Suns surprise senior with scholarship to NAU

Marilyn wants to go to college to be a nurse, and she has big dreams for what she’ll accomplish.

PHOENIX — Carl Hayden High School senior, Marilyn Maldanado, thought she was interviewing for a potential scholarship Monday morning, but the Phoenix Suns Charities and Helios Education Foundation had a surprise up its sleeve.

In reality, the scholarship was already hers.

The Gorilla showed up unexpectedly and handed Marilyn an iPad with a video message from Suns President and CEO Jason Rowley congratulating her and letting her know she’d receive a full-ride scholarship to Northern Arizona University. 

“I’ll be the first one going to college in my family,” said Marilyn. “It’s something big because I’ll also be the second one to graduate. It’s just something for the first time for my family.”

“These days are obviously really special,” said Sarah Krahenbuhl, Executive Director of Phoenix Suns Charities. “Right now in this time, it’s even more special that we get to surprise someone. We all need a little bit of good news right now and we're honored to be able to give that today.”

Marilyn’s first phone call was to her mother to tell her she would be the first in her family to go to college, but the cost would be covered. 

At first, her mom hung up the phone in disbelief, then cried tears of joy before telling her daughter she loved her.

“I love you too,” Marilyn said as she hung up the phone.

Marilyn wants to go to college to be a nurse, and she has big dreams for what she’ll accomplish.

“I’m really speechless about it, but I’m really thankful for all of you guys. I hope to become something really big in this world.”

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