Allie Johnson awarded KICF Maud Wyatt Recognition Scholarship

May 21, 2024
Allie Johnson and various photos of her with family, her classroom observations, etc.

Newman University student Allie Johnson was recently recognized as a recipient of the 2024 Maud Wyatt Recognition Scholarship.

Out of more than 105 nominations, 19 students from participating universities in the Kansas Independent College Foundation (KICF) received the highly competitive scholarship. When Johnson learned she was selected, she said it felt like an “immense privilege.”

Kansas Independent College Foundation

“I feel incredibly lucky and blessed to have been given this opportunity to further my education and pursue my goals,” she said. “It reaffirms my commitment to academic excellence and fuels my determination to make the most of this incredible opportunity.”

Johnson added, “I want to express my thanks to God for the gift of life and the privilege of my educational journey at Newman University. My appreciation extends to my family, particularly my parents (Wendy and Alex Johnson) whose unwavering support has been the cornerstone of my success.”

(From left to right) Jayla, Ty and Allie Johnson
(From left to right) Siblings Jayla, Ty and Allie Johnson

Life calling discovered through loss and love

Johnson’s desire to become a teacher stems from a place of adversity. 

When Johnson was in middle school, she and her family lost their childhood home in a devastating house fire. Despite the incredible loss, she emerged from the challenges with a newfound appreciation for the blessing of life. 

Her world was turned upside down, but she still trusted God’s plan. Her faith, school and teachers provided a constant source of comfort during her darkest days.

“This experience instilled in me a profound empathy for students who may be navigating their own hardships,” Johnson said. “I am driven by the desire to be a beacon of comfort and stability for my students, ensuring that my classroom serves as a sanctuary where every child feels valued, supported and empowered to overcome adversity.” 

The KICF scholarship directly supports Johnson’s dream to pay it forward as a future teacher — especially to students with learning disabilities or special needs. Her brother, Ty, is a major inspiration and motivator for her life’s calling.

Ty and Johnson
Ty and Johnson

“Ty, being nonverbal and autistic, communicates solely through sign language, yet his gentle demeanor and boundless love for others have left an indelible mark on my heart,” Johnson said. “My desire to become a teacher is deeply intertwined with my profound love and admiration for Ty.”

In high school, Johnson participated in a “Bear Buddies” program where she was paired with a first-grader, Keithen, who has Down syndrome. This marked the beginning of a meaningful connection that continues to thrive today. Johnson even celebrated Keithen’s recent promotion to middle school alongside family and friends. 

“Through my brother (and others), I have come to recognize the inherent worth and beauty of every person, regardless of their abilities,” Johnson said. “I always view them as humans like us but with extra love from God. … This has cultivated a deep-seated desire to create an inclusive and nurturing environment where all students like Ty feel loved, valued and seen.” 

Johnson and her "Bear Buddy" Keithen
Johnson and her “Bear Buddy” Keithen

I am driven by the desire to be a beacon of comfort and stability for my students.

Allie Johnson, senior at Newman University

A second sanctuary at Newman University

Attending a Catholic university wasn’t always a possibility for Johnson, but thanks to resources and support, her dream became a tangible reality. Newman University offered Johnson a continued place of learning and spiritual growth when it came time to leave her hometown, St. Marys, Kansas, for college. 

“Newman University offers a unique environment where I can integrate my academic pursuits with my spiritual and religious beliefs,” she said. “Overall, Newman has fostered a student-centered learning environment that prioritizes academic excellence, professional growth and ethical leadership in education.”

Through Newman’s elementary education program, Johnson has developed personalized teaching strategies, accommodations and intervention plans to meet her future students’ learning needs. She can also engage with her Catholic faith in a community that “shares the values and principles that matter most.”

Johnson is a member of the Newman University cheer and dance team
Johnson is a member of the Newman University cheer and dance team

Her list of leadership roles and commitments is extensive; Johnson is a student-athlete of the Newman cheer and dance team, a member of the President’s Student Cabinet, Student Government Association, Teacher’s Club, Circle K International, Campus Ministry and other organizations. These opportunities have taught her how to contribute and collaborate with others — lessons she can apply in her future classroom. 

“My goal is to not only teach academic content but also instill confidence, resilience and a love for learning in all my students, just as my Newman education has done for me,” Johnson said. “I aspire to contribute positively to the educational landscape and make a meaningful difference in the lives of young learners.”

A special friendship that inspires

She will always remember her late friend Marie-Noelle Bordelon, known lovingly by many as “Lolly.” The one-year anniversary of Lolly’s death was May 7, one day after Johnson’s birthday. Johnson describes Lolly as “a radiant presence” whose impact on her was “instant and profound.” 

Allie Johnson and her late friend, Marie-Noelle Bordelon, also known as "Lolly"
Johnson and her late friend, Lolly

“Lolly’s infectious smile and boundless heart left an indelible mark on those around her,” Johnson said. “In the year since her passing, grief has taken its unpredictable course, yet amidst the pain, Lolly’s spirit continues to shine brightly.”

Whenever Johnson stepped into her classrooms for observations during her junior year at Newman, she was reminded of Lolly’s long-lasting love and compassion.

“Her enduring love and guidance have become a driving force behind my determination to complete my education in order to advocate for individuals with special needs just like Lolly, Ty and Keithen,” Johnson said.

Johnson pictured with kindergarteners during her class observation.
Johnson pictured with kindergarteners during her class observation.

Supporting students through scholarships

In addition to Johnson, Newman students Onyx Coleman and Kaylee McNeill received Green & Gold scholarships from the KICF. Coleman, a nursing student from Andover, Kansas, received the Better Life Degree Completion Award of $1,500, recognizing students who return to complete their degree after a period of absence. McNeill, a theology student from Hesston, Kansas, received a Future Leaders in Faith scholarship for $750.

“The students at Kansas’ independent colleges are going to change the world for the better,” said KICF President Matthew Lindsey. “It’s a privilege to support them in their endeavors and we’re grateful to Maud Wyatt for making it possible for us to do so.”

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