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Five Students Merit Fr. Vincent J. Guinan Scholars

The University of St. Thomas has awarded five incoming freshmen with the Father Vincent J. Guinan Scholarship, which covers full tuition for four years. This year’s awardees are Kelsey Boor, Gregory Heerensperger, David Markus, C.J. Miller and Dominika Snodgrass.

The scholarship is named after Father Vincent J. Guinan, who led the Basilian fathers in establishing the University and served as the founding president.

To be considered for the scholarship, applicants must be Catholic, meet specific academic requirements, submit a 500-word essay and recommendation letter from a high school principal or guidance counselor. The top 15 finalists must also complete an on-campus interview with the selection committee. The recipients are required to join UST’s Presidential Ambassadors and be active in Campus Ministry.

“This annual scholarship is awarded to a select number of students who excel academically and demonstrate themselves to be a good fit for the Catholic mission of the University of St. Thomas,” said Arthur Ortiz, Associate Director of Admissions. “Candidates are Catholic students who are serious about attending a Catholic university in order to strengthen their Catholic formation. The selection committee determines which students are likely to contribute to the UST community in keeping with the Basilian core values of goodness, discipline, and knowledge. Students receiving a Guinan Scholarship are considered the elite of the elite.”

Gregory Heerensperger is one of the only UST freshmen who can say he graduated from high school on the UST campus. He comes from a family of nine home-schooled children, four of whom are in college. Heerensperger is a member of the Apostolate of Roman Catholic Homeschoolers which held their graduation ceremony at UST.

“As a home-schooler, I have come to expect individual attention in the classroom, and I know I will get that at UST,” Heerensperger said.

When considering colleges, UST was instantly in the running. Heerensperger’s sister Emily, his parents and his grandparents all attended UST. He plans to study business.

“I have seen my sister achieve a great deal of academic success, and she speaks highly of her professors. I have also had the pleasure of attending Mass at UST, and I feel this is a place where I can thrive spiritually and intellectually.”

Kelsey Boor, a native of Plano, was homeschooled through the Mother of Divine Grace Home School program. She is the oldest of six children. While searching for a Catholic university, Boor found UST named among the top 21 Catholic Universities in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College published by the Cardinal Newman Society. She visited the campus, observed classes and applied early in her sophomore year. Boor has been accepted to the Honors program and plans to major in philosophy and theology.

“At UST, there is such a welcoming environment, special attention to detail, and knowledge about the home-school culture that my mom and I had never encountered before. It was greatly appreciated,” she said

“I think St. Thomas will be a good fit for me for a number of reasons, but I am really looking forward to being a part of a community of faith and scholarship,” Boor said.

David Markus graduated from St. Thomas High school and was accepted to 13 different universities, many of which offered him similar scholarships. UST made it to the top of his college choice list in part because it is close to home. Markus also said he has noticed positive changes among his friends who have attended UST.

“I have some friends who go to UST, and I have noticed new aspects of their personality emerge since they started at UST. People who were very reserved have become more outgoing and confident,” he said.

He also has a great appreciation for the Catholic foundations of the University. Markus plans to study history and is considering participating in the pre-law program.

“During my college experience, I wanted to have a strong anchor of faith in my life,” he said. “I really enjoy the Socratic method of class discussion I am looking forward to interacting in more discussions with my professors and peers.”

Growing up in Youngsville, La., C.J. Miller was not familiar with UST until his high school guidance counselor at Vermilion Catholic High School alerted him to UST’s scholarship opportunities. He plans to major in political science and minor in French.

“After visiting the UST campus, I was really impressed with the welcoming and hospitable environment and the faithful Catholicity of the University,” Miller said. “My family and I feel blessed to receive this generous scholarship, without which I would have difficulty attending a private university. I look forward to attending a University which will help me deepen my intellectual and spiritual capacity.”

Dominika Snodgrass, who graduated from Baytown’s Ross Sterling High School, will be the third of her sisters to attend UST. Already familiar with campus, Snodgrass will room with her sister, Alexandria in the Guinan Residence Hall. She has been accepted to the Honors Program, and plans to get involved in the Drama Department, the fencing club and Celts for Life. She plans to double major in French and English.

“I’ve spent quite a bit of time at UST, and I love that UST is truly joyfully Catholic,” she said. “It was a great relief to my family to receive the Guinan Scholarship, and we are deeply grateful.”