National Essay Contest Winner Seeks the ‘Way, Truth and Life’ at Catholic College

Sarah Niblock of St. Pius X Catholic High School in Kansas City, Missouri, is the winner of the Society’s second annual Essay Scholarship Contest for Catholic college students and will receive a $5,000 scholarship toward her education at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California.

“I finally found the words that God had been whispering in my heart. ‘Here, at this college, you will find me,’” writes Niblock in her winning essay, titled “The Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

The contest was open to high school seniors in the United States who participated in the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program and used The Newman Guide, which recommends faithful Catholic colleges, in their college search. The winning scholarship must be used for education at one of the 28 Catholic colleges and higher education programs recommended in The Newman Guide for their strong fidelity and Catholic identity.

With the innovative Recruit Me program, high school students can invite Newman Guide colleges to compete for them and provide information about their programs. Rising high school seniors who wish to enter next year’s essay contest can sign up for Recruit Me online at

As a junior in high school, Niblock was exploring college scholarship opportunities online when she stumbled upon Benedictine College’s release about the winner of the Newman Society’s first Essay Scholarship Contest. To be eligible for the contest the following year, Niblock signed up for the Newman Society’s Recruit Me program.

It was through the Recruit Me program that Niblock first learned about Thomas Aquinas College and was contacted by the College about its various offerings. Niblock was especially impressed with the College’s Great Books program and its Socratic, discussion-style courses. In the end, Niblock decided to attend TAC and told us that she’s “very grateful for the Newman Society’s programs!”

The topic for this year’s contest was to reflect, in 500-700 words, on the following question: “How will a faithful Catholic college education prepare you for life?”

Essays were judged by how well they demonstrated appreciation for faithful Catholic education, as well as the quality of the writing.

“Sarah Niblock impressed us with the picture she painted of a faithful Catholic college in her winning essay,” said Kelly Salomon, editor of The Newman Guide. “She shows how a strong Catholic environment can provide students with the formation they need for life.”

Niblock relates how she’s faced challenging questions from well-meaning family members and friends about the value of attending a faithful Catholic college.

After finding the answers, Niblock is eager to join a campus where she is confident she will find Jesus, who is the “Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

She describes her visit to a faithful Catholic college campus:

I watch as dozens of students appear from dorm rooms and classrooms, hurrying to Mass on a Wednesday afternoon…

…I listen to a freshman class discuss how to logically discover the validity of an argument…

…I overhear conversations between students, telling each other how former alumni have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, priests, sisters, engineers, and missionaries.

The spiritual life offerings, academic environment, and overall formation provided by a faithful Catholic college convinced Niblock of its value.

Niblock’s entire essay can be read here.

Her $5,000 scholarship is made possible thanks to the generosity of Joe and Ann Guiffre, supporters of the Newman Society and faithful Catholic education.

“We are grateful to Mr. and Mrs. Guiffre for enabling this scholarship,” said 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.”

Essays were submitted from students in 40 states. Most attend Catholic schools, about 30 percent are homeschooled, and the remainder attend public schools.

Students who participated in the contest applied to every U.S. residential college that is recommended in The Newman Guideplus Holy Apostles College and the University of Navarra in Spain.

Although there can be only one winner, many students submitted outstanding essays, including Maylee Brown of Iowa City, Iowa; Celine Gaeta of Van Nuys, California; Anna O’Leary of Fredericksburg, Texas; and Isabelle Thelen of Traverse City, Michigan. These will be published by the Newman Society on its website,

Copyright © 2024 The Cardinal Newman Society. Permission to reprint without modification to text, with attribution to author and to The Cardinal Newman Society, and (if published online) hyperlinked to the article on the Newman Society’s website. The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Cardinal Newman Society.