Coveted Full-Ride Guinan Presidential Scholarship Awarded to Amazing High School Senior John Paul Le
Annually, the University of St. Thomas-Houston V.J. Guinan Full-Ride Presidential Scholarship recipients are exceptional incoming Catholic freshmen. Houstonian John Paul Le, the 17-year-old recipient for fall of 2023, is every bit as remarkable. To interact with Le is to sense his abundant love for God, family, community and learning.
“We are delighted to have had such a great pool of candidates for the V.J. Guinan Scholarship,” UST Director of Admissions Sara N. Johnson said. “Of the 28 applicants, we have selected John Paul Le to be the fall 2023 recipient. He has shown, through his academic and spiritual journey, his passion and devotion to his Catholic faith. The committee and I believe he will truly thrive at UST and show others what it means to Crescamus in Christo — Grow in Christ.”
Le said he perceived God accompanying and directing him throughout the application process. For example, the young scholar explained how he delayed writing his required 500-word essay until the day before it was due because he did not know what to write.
“So, I was distraught and prayed, ‘Mary, Blessed Mother, please help because I don’t know what to do,” he said. “Five minutes later, I got a call from my godfather suggesting I write about the priests and seminarians who inspired me at the minor seminary. And I wrote the essay in an hour!”
Le’s beautifully written essay revealed the deeply formative influences in his faith journey. First, he credited his parents — “The Holy Mass, rosary, and adoration were our daily bread.” Then he focused on the priests at two minor seminaries he attended for four years in Minnesota and Indiana — “I now realize God has granted me ‘one hundred times more’ through the many priests and religious who formed me during those critical years. They have inspired me to let my thoughts, words, and actions proclaim, ‘Ad majorem Dei gloriam!’”
Standing Out Among the Pack
The young candidate also wanted to put his best foot forward in the interview portion of the process and stand out with the decision-makers. So Le, a musician who plays several instruments, including the piano and organ, brought his ukulele to the interview and sang a prayerful song he wrote about the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus.
Again, he saw God in the process.
“I had intended to sing a song I wrote about the Blessed Virgin Mary, but I left the words and music at home, so God said no to performing that first song,” Le smiled.
In a final application bid, Le, the writer and musician, added “artist” to his resume. Along with his essay, he submitted his skillful drawing of St. Pope John Paul II.
The Guinan Becomes a “Family Tradition”
John Paul Le’s two older sisters attend St. Thomas, and each is a Guinan Scholar full of faith. They are Janelle Le, a graduating senior and incoming master’s student for fall 2023, and Chiara Le, who will be a junior in the fall.
The three come from extraordinary parents who keep God alive for their children. In Le’s essay, he wrote — “Since my toddler years, my parents conscientiously strove to cultivate a love for the Church in my soul.”
About the Guinan Scholarship
The coveted Guinan Scholarship is a four-year, full-ride opportunity awarded to incoming freshmen who excel academically and uphold the Catholic mission of UST. In addition, these individuals assume the role of UST Presidential Ambassadors and leaders within Campus Ministry. Application for the V.J. Guinan Presidential Scholars Program will open the next time in February 2024.
In the meantime, Le says he enjoys all areas of learning and, among his options (including priesthood), is considering taking the STEM route to join his father’s dental practice one day.