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For the second year in three years, the student winner of a Catholic-identity national essay contest has chosen to use the scholarship award to attend Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas.
Three years ago, the Cardinal Newman Society started a contest offering $5,000 in scholarship money to the best essay by a student reflecting on the importance of Catholic education. The award has been given three times to students who attended to go to a school featured in the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, and in two cases the contest winners chose Benedictine College.
One student winner chose St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.
In both cases, Benedictine College has elected to match the contest’s freshman-year scholarship with the same scholarship from the college in the students’ sophomore, junior and senior years.
Three years ago, Jace Griffith of Idaho Falls School used the first-ever Newman Society contest award to attend Benedictine College.
This year, Landis Lehman from Lucas, Texas, won the second annual scholarship and has also chosen to attend Benedictine College also.
“A college that boldly embraces its Catholic character stands out from the crowd,” begins the winning essay by Lehman, “Prepared for Life.”
This year’s contest challenged students to write 500-700 words in response to the question, “From academics to student activities to residence life, what makes a faithful Catholic college attractive to you?”
“We were impressed with Landis’s well-written essay,” said Kelly Salomon, director of Newman Guide programs for the Newman Society. “She identifies many of the key elements of an authentic education. Her essay will be helpful to high school students across the country because it makes a convincing case for attending a faithful Catholic college.”
“She will receive a $5,000 scholarship toward her first year at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, and is eligible for continuing aid from Benedictine in subsequent years,” said the Newman Society’s press release.
Benedictine College promotes its mission of community, faith and scholarship to prospective students. Lehman’s essay touched on each aspect of that mission.
Regarding community, she wrote that at the Catholic college she would choose:
“I will become part of a close-knit community that is passionate about helping its students live healthy, holy lives. … I will be able to participate in athletics and other activities that promote a healthy lifestyle. What I look forward to the most, however, is the community and companionship that the college will foster through these and other events … forming deep, genuine friendships.”
Benedictine College’s residence life program is built to foster exactly that with careful intentionality.
Regarding faith, she said the college she chooses will have
“an environment that will guide me towards virtue during my most crucial formative years. Only at this type of college will the Mass be treated as an integral part of student life. Here alone, the sacraments will be available to me daily, and an Adoration chapel will never be more than a few steps away. I will be surrounded by students who have a passion for their faith, and their example will inspire me to pursue goodness in my own life. In addition, as I discern my vocation, I will find myself in a college atmosphere that promotes pure relationships through its policies.”
Benedictine College offers three daily Masses and Perpetual Adoration on campus.
Regarding scholarship, she said the ultimate goal of the college she chooses will be
“the pursuit of truth. … Science and math will teach me about creation’s marvelous design, while history and literature will increase my understanding of the human person and society as seen in the light of Catholic teaching. Most importantly, through the study of theology, my mind will be enlightened by the divine truths that have been revealed to man by God Himself. Furthermore, I will develop critical thinking and reasoning skills, allowing me to continue distinguishing truth from falsehood as I move forward in life.”
Benedictine College’s transformative plan Benedictine 2020: A Vision for Greatness says “As a Catholic college, we consider faith and reason as ‘two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth.’”
Essays were submitted from students in 44 states, who together have applied to every U.S. residential college that is recommended in The Newman Guide.
“We are very proud that Landis has chosen Benedictine College and we look forward to welcoming her to campus,” said Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis. “Her essay shows her to be a gifted young woman who knows exactly what she is looking for. We will make sure she finds it at Benedictine College.”
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this article misstated the history of the scholarship contest. We apologize for the error.