Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship recipients announced

April 21st, 2014 | Betsy Wells

Intelligent, accomplished, curious, kind – all qualities that make exceptional candidates for the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship, the most prestigious award at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College (SMWC), named after the College’s foundress. More than that, however, the winners have already taken steps in life to aspire higher and become effective leaders, proficient learners and valued contributors to the community. It is with these qualities in mind that seven students were chosen – two who will receive full-tuition scholarships and five who will received $17,000 scholarships, all renewable for four years.

To apply for the award, students submitted an essay on how they intend to embody the values of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, a letter of recommendation and participated in an interview with the selection committee on campus. Based on those elements along with other criteria such as academics, community involvement and extracurricular activities, the following accomplished young women were selected to receive the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship:

Shannon Lueking
Shannon Lueking

Shannon Lueking, Carmel Ind., full-tuition award

With a passion for service, leadership and athletics, Shannon Lueking strives to become an independent woman who will change the world by serving those in need. Her involvement with a program called Special Sports, created to give children and adults with special needs the opportunity to play sports in a safe and supportive environment, prompted her to devote her life to helping those with special needs. She plans to major in psychology and states in her essay, “In my lifetime, I hope to encourage a more positive view of the disabled in society and provide these men and women with a sense of comfort with the community.” Lueking, a senior at Cathedral High School, has also been active in extracurricular activities, serving as the head coach of her neighborhood swim team, and has participated in Guardian Angels, a program to send supplies to troops overseas. 

Mary Carper
Mary Carper

Mary Carper, Indianapolis, Ind., full-tuition award

In her essay, Mary Carper stated quite honestly that she was not yet sure what her exact vocation would be in life, saying “I am currently trying to discern my vocation, though I recognize that God will not send me an answer overnight.” While she related that she would most like to be a veterinarian or a Catholic school teacher, Carper mostly focused on her strengths and talents and how she intended to use those in whatever path God chose for her. Carper, a senior at Perry Meridian High School, is a member of the Archdiocesan Youth Council, a Vacation Bible Camp teacher, a Falcon Leadership Opportunities Through Service (FLOTS) mentor and a member of National Honors Society. Additionally, she has participated in two mission trips to New Mexico. Carper incorporates her Catholic faith into every aspect of her life and exemplifies many qualities of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin. Carper plans to major in pre-vet.

Shannon Sonderman
Shannon Sonderman

Shannon Sonderman, Jasper, Ind., $17,000 award

While Sonderman desires to become an elementary education teacher and soccer coach, her aspirations to impact children and her community reach well beyond those goals. In her freshmen year of high school, Sonderman initiated her own letter-writing campaign to encourage friends and family to donate to the campership fund of Camp Ondessonk in Ozark, Ill., to help offset the cost for children who couldn’t afford summer camp. She has continued the annual campaign each year since and has enabled eight children to attend the summer camp. Her aspirations even reach overseas. A trip to Germany made her realize she wanted to study abroad and possibly teach abroad someday. Sonderman, a senior at Jasper High School, serves as a role model as a 4-H leader and active participant in youth ministry.

Mari Bennett
Mari Bennett

Mari Bennett, Terre Haute, Ind., $17,000 award

As a peer leader in the special needs program at her high school, Mari Bennett received affirmation that she was on the right path and making the right decision in her career goals. Bennett, who plans to earn a degree in counseling psychology and open her own practice, admires the strength and perseverance of the students she works with, students who struggle with physical and mental disabilities. Her experiences in the special needs program, along with other experiences in community service, have helped her develop a compassionate approach that will benefit her in her intended career. Bennett, a senior at Terre Haute South High School, states, “In my own practice, I will teach others to look past the limitations that the world has given them, and see each struggle as an opportunity to be a stronger and wiser individual.” 

Devyn Burns
Devyn Burns

Devyn Burns, Indianapolis, Ind., $17,000 award

For Devyn Burns, music therapy is not only her career goal but also a melding of her two passions: music and serving others. As a certified music therapist, Burns would like to work with children with autism. Within her church community, Burns has assisted with fundraising efforts to improve health care, water systems and schools in other countries, as well as helped with soup kitchens and home building. This summer, she plans to travel on an overseas mission trip to help build an orphanage. Burns, a senior at Pike High School, values diversity and hopes to help support underprivileged people in her life journey. She plans to use her experiences at SWMC to help her do just that, stating “I would love to bring the gift of music therapy and all that it entails to other countries that are not fortunate enough to have it as an option.” 

Sarah McDivitt
Sarah McDivitt

Sarah McDivitt, Marion, Ind., $17,000 award

A love for horses and a passion for helping children sparked Sarah McDivitt’s interest in equine studies. McDivitt, a senior at Oak Hill High School, attributes most of what she has learned – perseverance, strength, patience, love, teamwork, self confidence, leadership – to the horses that have impacted her life. Her dream is to create a safe haven for foster children where they can grow and learn by interacting with horses. Her family’s involvement with foster care showed her that there are many children in the world who can benefit emotionally from such a place. McDivitt states, “A child’s mind is an amazing thing. It deserves to be nurtured and cared for. With the help of a horse I wish to do just that.” 

Bry’Chell Johnson, Chicago, Ill., $17,000 award

During her year living in Uganda, Bry’Chell Johnson’s experiences prompted her to make teaching her career goal. While she re-evaluates her goals often, ultimately she hopes to inspire and encourage students to succeed and improve the world. Regardless of what level she teaches, Johnson knows that her ultimate goal is to make a difference in a positive way, stating “Nothing gets my heart beating faster than the thought of bright and exciting pupils being transformed into wise and brave adults!” At her church, Johnson teaches Sunday School and helps with the food pantry. She is the first chair in the St. Rita Band and was awarded the Ken Danz award for outstanding performances during her junior year. She was also chosen to plan in the St. Xavier Honors Band for exceptional high school band members. Johnson, a senior at Mother McCauley High School, plans to major in English education.

Comment on this article

This story has been moved to the archive and comments have now been disabled.