National Essay Contest Winner Saw ‘Firsthand’ the ‘Great Riches’ of Faithful Catholic Education

While many students go off to college and lose their faith and joy, one college-bound student saw how his older siblings’ faith was strengthened and lives were enriched by attending a faithful Catholic college—and now he, too, will be attending a faithful college with a $5,000 scholarship.

Jacob Kristine, a homeschooled student from Pennsylvania, is the winner of The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2023 Essay Scholarship Contest. His $5,000 scholarship will be applied toward his first year at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., and he is eligible for continuing scholarships from Christendom in subsequent years.

“My siblings have bestowed upon me the great riches of understanding what gifts a truly Catholic college can impart to a young person. I have seen firsthand how this pursuit of Truth leads to a life that is Good and wholesome and sincerely promotes seeking the Creator of Beauty,” explained Kristine in his award-winning essay, which can be read in its entirety here.

“The friendships my siblings forged throughout their four years among like-minded followers of Christ have challenged them to grow in wisdom, remain faithful to God through worship and devotional practices, and encouraged virtuous living without sacrificing fun, laughter, and an abundantly joy-filled life—then and now,” Kristine continued.

The topic for this year’s contest was to reflect on the following question: “The Cardinal Newman Society recently released a 7-minute video on the advantages of choosing a faithful Catholic college. Pick a key point(s) or theme(s) from the video and explain why attending a Newman Guide college will have special value for you.” Essays were judged by how well they demonstrated appreciation for faithful Catholic education, as well as the quality of the writing.

The judges were thoroughly impressed with Kristine’s essay, which emphasized the academic, spiritual, and social life at faithful Catholic colleges. Kristine is the fifth of eight children in his family and has been homeschooled his entire life. Since third grade, he has served as an altar server at his Catholic parish and worked at the church cemetery as a groundskeeper. He has also enjoyed competing in sports, especially cross country and track and field, which he hopes to continue next year at Christendom.

Kristine explained how The Newman Guide and The Cardinal Newman Society’s “Recruit Me” program proved helpful in his college search:

Without the Newman Guide, I am not so sure that my college search would have been as comprehensive and complete as it turned out. The “Recruit Me” program was a fantastic blessing, as it allowed so many colleges to reach out to me and provide information that I could digest and review. I would then turn to the Newman Guide to further enlighten me about the most vital and important aspects of a truly Catholic college education. With your fantastic resources, I was able to confidently find a home for the next four years that would equip me to become the man of God that this world so desperately needs.

The annual contest is open to high school seniors in the United States who participate in the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program and use The Newman Guide in their college search. The innovative Recruit Me program invites Newman Guide colleges to compete for students while providing information about faithful Catholic education. Rising high school seniors who wish to enter next year’s essay contest can sign up for Recruit Me online here.

Kristine’s $5,000 scholarship is made possible by the generosity of Joseph and Ann Guiffre, supporters of The Cardinal Newman Society and faithful Catholic education.

“We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Guiffre for enabling this scholarship,” said Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “They understand the unique value of a truly Catholic education, and they are thrilled to help a student experience all that a Newman Guide-recommended college can provide.”

Each year’s winner of the contest also has the opportunity to receive an additional $15,000 from participating colleges over the course of their college education. Sixteen of the Newman Guide colleges, including Christendom College, have agreed to supplement the Newman Society’s scholarship with additional $5,000 grants over three additional years, under certain conditions including full-time enrollment and academic progress.

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