So, what's it like to be a Posse Scholar? How does one get selected to this highly-competitive program?
For Gabrielle Farrell, a Bryn Mawr College graduate, it was the "honor of a lifetime." In this interview, Farrell was gracious enough to share her experiences as a Posse Scholar and the life-changing aspects of this program. Parents and interested students will learn a lot from this interview in regards to the preparation process. (FYI: The accompanying photos show how beautifully these young ladies have matured throughout their college years.)
A. I attended a charter school by the name of Health Careers Academy, located on the campus of Northeastern University. It is now named the Edward M. Kennedy Academy for Health Careers after the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, in recognition of his dedication to education and health care.
Q2. The Posse Foundation states that it selects people who have "extraordinary academic and leadership potential." What were some of the activities that you did while in high school that showed exceptional promise?
A. In my first year of high school, I was nominated and accepted into a summer program at Harvard University's Crimson Summer Academy (CSA). The program selects 30 high-achieving high school students from Cambridge and Boston to participate in classes, projects, field trips and cultural activities. Students live in the Harvard Yard during the summer, receive a stipend, and a laptop. The program's goal is to prepare students for the rigorous work in prestigious colleges and universities. I was my high school's senior class president, high school athlete, and active member of the National Honors Society (NHS) and I participated in various volunteer opportunities.
Q3. Who nominated you for a Posse Foundation Scholarship and what was your initial reaction?
A. My guidance counselor Carmen O'Hara, who is being recognized this year for the "2013 Boston Educator of the Year Award" nominated me for a Posse Foundation Scholarship. Initially, I was afraid and nervous because she explained how prestigious, competitive, and significant this scholarship is, and what it would mean if I were to be amongst the individuals selected.
A. From September through December each year, Posse conducts the Dynamic Assessment Process (DAP). It uniquely evaluates students to identify promising leaders who could otherwise be missed through the traditional admissions process.
Hundreds of area high school students from various backgrounds gathered at a local college for one of three rounds of DAP. Program judges would circle the room in observation of how we participated in various activities. They took note of what kind of leader you were and if you did anything exceptional by being helpful to another person.
It wasn't so clear then, but it didn't matter if you were an outspoken leader or a quiet one. It mattered most that you participated with enthusiasm and ambition, and treated everyone around you with respect. While building a Lego structure to emulate the primary structure, my team had friction; instead of adding to it, I simply would pass the Lego pieces to my team mates and encouraged them to hear each other out. I always felt it was my responsibility to be inclusive, so I made sure everyone was involved.
In Round Two of DAP, two Posse staff members interviewed me to learn more about me on a personal level. At this point, you can really share your story, and provide what makes you an exceptional leader. Many are apprehensive about sharing their adversities, but Posse acknowledges that adversity builds character. I remember one question: "What role would you play in your Posse?" I said, "I would be the glue." I was raised as an only child by my strong and amazing mother, and having a group of sisters to go to college with, excited me more than anything else.
Round Three of DAP is much like round one, but smaller, composed of roughly 25 other young women who made it through the first two rounds, representatives from the college and Posse staff. Only 10 would be chosen. We shared our names, schools, and something we were most proud; later we had to find different people in the room that shared similar interests. We then met in a smaller group to answer and discuss questions, while college personnel walked around and observed. Later, we worked on similar activities until it was time to leave.
Q5. Where did you attend college and why did you select it? What was your major?
A. I attended Bryn Mawr College, and I selected it because out of all of the schools offered by Posse Boston, it was the nearest to a larger city. Unbeknownst to me at the time, Bryn Mawr College held a highly prestigious title as a Seven Sister institution, and is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts schools in the United States. I studied both Political Science and French.
Q6. Describe your "Posse?" How did you all begin the process of working together as a unit?
A. From a talented guitarist, to a mathematician destined to make her mark in the Boston Public School system as a teacher, to a world traveler, to a youth program coordinator, my posse is very dynamic much like every other Posse. Even so, every Posse is different. We began the process of working together as a unit from January to August of our senior year, and we met weekly with staff trainers for two-hour workshops. This taught us how to be supportive of one another, achieve academic excellence and cross-cultural communication, and become active stewards of change and leadership on campus.
Q7. What did you enjoy most about the college experience and how did your "posse" help?
A. Each year, Posse Boston trainers and staff would come to visit the campus to help us host "The Posse Plus Retreat." Posse is such an inclusive concept, even in the broadest range. Campus wide, we had friends, faculty, and staff that supported us and our mission to be leaders and we would invite them to experience Posse first-hand.
Through a series of workshops, we discussed controversial matters of race, religion, and the lasting effects of social media. You had a chance to enlighten and be enlightened, and no one ever left with dry eyes because we all felt so inspired by one another. To top the weekend off, we'd have a "no-talent, talent show," and was able to write warm-hearted post-it notes to those who inspired us the most, a Posse tradition called "warm fuzzies." Imagine receiving a stack of post-it-notes from people who you've touched by your experience. It warmed my heart to know people who appreciated the encouragement they received from me, or the story they heard me share.
Q8. What advice would you give prospective students who are interested in being considered for a Posse scholarship, as well as parents who may want to guide their kids towards a college education?
A. So many prospective students reach out to me via Twitter and Facebook asking me for advice, but honestly, all I can tell them is "be yourself." Interviewing for Posse is such a detailed, granular process, and being yourself is all you can do. Be a leader and convey how leading in your activities has shaped you to be a better person of service. Express how having a posse would help better your college experience. Sometimes, people would enter an interview and forget the purpose of this scholarship. It is about merit, teamwork, and leadership. Research the schools that are being offered to you and know the features of the school that capture your attention the most. Have an open mind about leaving the nest, you might have to "fly far away," but you won't be alone, and that's the best part of it all. You'll have your "Posse."
As for parents, many are reluctant to send their children away for college. Letting their child go is probably one of the best things they could do for them. Posse is a huge financial help, but not only that, they don't leave your child alone. They send them with a group of nine other students, a college mentor, and Posse personnel visit throughout the semester. When college is over, Posse is not. They help connect scholars to various career opportunities, and encourage us to go on to pursue a higher education. What's not to like? They challenge, in a good way, your son or daughter's ability to grow, and they will return to the parents as bright, young adults. They'll feel accomplished, and so will the parents.
Q9. Do you still keep in touch with your "posse?"
A. Posses are much like families, and every Posse is different. Some are far, near or close. I do keep in touch with my Posse, and can't go for a week to a month without touching base.
Q10. What is your present career?
A. I currently work as a public relations, communications associate for Massachusetts' only statewide anti-hunger organization, "Project Bread -- The Walk for Hunger."
Q11. Is there anything else that you would like to share?
A. The Posse Foundation changed my life, and I couldn't imagine my college experience without the support they provided me throughout the years.
CARING IS SHARING. If you enjoyed this article, leave a comment. SHARE it with your people in your network by clicking on the buttons below. GET on my email list. FOLLOW me on Twitter.