The statue of Saint Mother Theodore Guerin.

The scholarship is named after Saint Mother Theodore, who founded Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College in 1840. She was a woman ahead of her time: an entrepreneurial leader who was dedicated to serving all people, regardless of race, religion or background, and who was passionate about educating women and preparing them to become leaders.

To recognize students who embody the principles by which Mother Theodore Guerin lived and served, SMWC created the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship Competition. The deadline to apply for the scholarship is November 30, 2023. The College awards four (4) scholarships up to full-tuition awards and one (1) $4,000 towards the cost of room in Le Fer Hall. These are renewable for a total of four years.


Students must meet all of the following eligibility requirements in order to be considered for this scholarship.

  • Admitted or enrolling as a full-time, campus-based SMWC student
  • Planning to enroll in a degree-seeking program
  • Demonstrate unique experiences, aptitudes and abilities to make a difference in their local communities and beyond.
  • Prove academic excellence by upholding a 3.2 high school GPA (on a 4.0 scale).

Applications will be reviewed by the Office of Admissions. Invitations will be sent for those selected to compete.

Application Process

Step 1: Submit your online application.

Step 2: Use the form below to apply to the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship, and submit your scholarship essay. The essay prompt is provided below.

Step 3: A letter of recommendation from a community leader or academic mentor should be sent separately by December 15, 2023. Choose an individual who will speak to your leadership abilities, dedication to faith, and commitment to service. Letters should be sent to the Office of Admissions at SMWC.

Step 4: Finalists will be invited to interviews. Interview dates will be announced at a later date.

Essay Instructions

Type a 750-1000 word essay on the following topic:

The Latin, “Virtus cum Scientia,” translated as “Virtue with Knowledge United,” appears on the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College seal and coat of arms. Chosen by SMWC foundress, Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, this motto embodies this liberal arts institution’s faithfulness to Catholic values and excellence in academics.

Describe the role of spirituality/faith in your own life and your commitment to education (including some examples). In your experience, how do these two things (spirituality/faith and education) relate to and reinforce one another? How would an education from a Catholic, liberal arts college prepare you for your future? Finally, how can you connect your thoughts on these topics to some aspects of Saint Mother Theodore’s life of faith and education?

Please note: This essay is different from your college application essay.

Requirements of Scholarship Recipients at SMWC

Recipients of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin Scholarship will form a community on campus that will carry on the values of Saint Mother Theodore herself: faith in Providence, quality education, persistence in service, reflection, and mentorship.

Faith in Providence

In a letter written by Mother Theodore, dated March 27, 1854, to Cecile (Le Fer De La Motte) Choisnet, she describes what it means to have faith in Providence. “You will not be offended, and you will allow me to say, and repeat, that you ought not to give way to uneasiness about the future. Put yourself gently into the hands of Providence. Trusting all your affairs to Him and putting them also under the protection of Mary and Joseph, you will see that all will be well.”

Students will be required to attend monthly faith formation meetings with the Campus Minister. These meetings should focus on how God continues to work at the Woods and how the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin cohort can continue to grow in faith through Providence. Guest speakers, panels, and small group discussions can be included in these gatherings. The Campus Minister will coordinate these monthly gatherings.

Quality Education

Mother Mary Lecor, superior general of Saint Mother Theodore’s congregation of Ruillé-sur-Loir in France, knew there was only one person who could undertake such a mission of traveling to a new country to help a diocese grow in the wilderness, and that was Sister St. Theodora. Years after Mother Mary sent her beloved Sister on this venture, Saint Theodora writes a letter to her superior general. It states, “…they wish to make us pay taxes, which is contrary to the laws of the State. We refuse positively. It embarrasses them a little to have women resist them and speak to them about the law. Woman in this country is only yet one-fourth of the family. I hope that, through the influence of religion and education, she will eventually become at least one half the ‘better half.’”

Students will be required to maintain a Cumulative GPA of 3.2 and remain in good disciplinary standing. Students are required to take these three classes over the course of his/her academic career at the Woods: WC100 HN, TH200 HN, and WC4xx HN.

Persistence in Service

“We are not called upon to do all the good possible, but only that which we can do.” These words that Saint Mother Theodore Guerin wrote in a letter to Reverend J. Kundek, a priest in Jasper, Indiana, remind us of the good we are called to do. We realize we can’t do it all, but what we can do, we should do unreservedly.

“Let us never forget that if we wish to die like the Saints we must live like them. Let us force ourselves to imitate their virtues, in particular humility and charity.” – Saint Mother Theodore Guerin in a letter to Sisters at Saint Mary’s in 1848

Students will be required to complete service hours each month. This service may be done on or off campus. Opportunities will also be available to serve as a group.


Reflection is part of every wise person’s life, particularly Saint Mother Theodore Guerin’s prayer. During her first journey to Indiana from France, Saint Theodora wrote in her journal, “Nothing troubled the charm and silence of this solitude. Making the most serious reflections on what we behold, and on our present position, I said to myself: Thus does life also pass away, now calm, now agitated, but at last the end is attained. Happy, ah, thrice happy they who can then look out to the never-ending future with calm and confidence, who can cast themselves on the bosom of God, the Center of our felicity.”

Saint Mother Theodore Guerin writes regarding daily reflection, “Every evening at the same hour when the weather was calm, I used to go on deck and bless God for all the wonders of His creation. I loved to consider the care of God’s Providence which extends even to the little fishes.”

Students will be required to complete and submit a reflection on their experience as a Saint Mother Theodore Guerin scholar at the end of each semester.


Soon after arriving in the woods of Indiana, Sister Theodore became known as Mother Theodore to the other five Sisters who traveled with her. The sister companions faced a daunting task, but trusting in the Providence of God, they set out on the mission before them. Realizing the great need for religious instruction and education, the sisters opened an academy for girls on July 4, 1841. By 1842, Sisters of Providence schools were established in Jasper, Ind., and St. Francisville, Ill.

Under the mentorship provided by Saint Mother Theodore Guerin, who received the role of “Mother” through her demeanor and servant heart, the Sisters of Providence were running the schools at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods and Jasper plus these other schools in Indiana: Vincennes, St. Peter’s (now Montgomery), Madison, Fort Wayne, Terre Haute, Evansville, North Madison, Lanesville and Columbus by the time of Mother Theodore’s death on May 14, 1856. Mother Theodore also opened two orphanages – one for girls and one for boys – in Vincennes. Additionally, the Congregation had grown from six sisters and four postulants to 67 professed members, nine novices and seven postulants.

Upper-class students who are recipients of the Saint Mother Theodore Guerin scholarship will be encouraged to mentor a freshman recipient of the same scholarship. The mentor should think about sharing his/her faith and the ways of the Woods, guiding the student toward success in and out of the classroom.

2023 Scholarship Winners – Congratulations!

Savannah BlackGreencastle, IN
Quincy BlodgettPlymouth, IN
Audrey BoyerDavis, IL
Paige ChickadaunceSullivan, IN
Geneva ClarkOrleans, IN
Ariella EngleBrazil, IN
Sophia HendersonWest Terre Haute, IN
Hayley HolcombRockville, IN
Lucy HowardCovington, IN
Lauren LandryLinton, IN
Maya MurphyEvansville, IN
Emma NormanMarshall, IN
Alyssa ReedParis, IL