York Catholic senior Alexander Pawlikowski motions to a classmate after receiving balloons and a check for a full-ride at  St. Vincent College.
York Catholic senior Alexander Pawlikowski motions to a classmate after receiving balloons and a check for a full-ride at St. Vincent College. (Bill Kalina photo)

Whatever good tidings happened to you over the holidays, Alex Pawlikowski can probably top it.

The York Catholic High School senior found out last month he earned a full ride to Saint Vincent College in Latrobe, Pa.

Alex, 18, got a check presentation in class on Wednesday to cap off the impressive accomplishment, one he earned by taking a written test and getting nominated by his principal.

The Windsor Township resident beat out 225 applicants to get the $160,000 oversized check covering his tuition, room and board. His family was on hand Wednesday along with Saint Vincent officials to hand him the check in class.

"I was speechless," at finding out, Alex said. "I thought I'd be lucky to get fifth, fourth."

Alex, who plans on studying pre-med, told his mother, Chris Pawlikowski, on a campus visit with her that he loved the private Catholic college, particular the small school atmosphere. He joked that he was going to take the prestigious Wimmer Scholarship Competition exam, one that tests students in writing, math and general knowledge, an exam known to make students a little teary-eyed on the way out. The Wimmer program, now in its 31st year, is named after Saint Vincent founder Archabbot Boniface Wimmer.

"I said I'm going to take that scholarship (test) and get first. I was just saying it as a joke," Alex said.

Saint Vincent called him in December to inform him he won. When Chris found out, she ran on the porch and started shouting with glee. Alex mentioned it might sound like they are in grave danger, "so I switched to a 'Woohoo!'" Chris said with a laugh.

Alex attends York Catholic with his twin brother, Nicholas, and his younger brother, Samuel. He spends time playing varsity soccer and volunteering at the Catholic Harvest Food Pantry.

- Reach Andrew Shaw at ashaw@yorkdispatch.com