A group of 10 high school students has been selected and awarded scholarships to attend Texas A&M University in the fall by the ninth and newest member of the nationally recognized Posse Foundation program, Posse Houston. The inaugural class — announced at a banquet on Jan. 7 — is a specialized STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) group chosen from among 500 Houston-area applicants. A second group of 10 Posse scholars from Atlanta was announced in December and will also be attending Texas A&M this fall.
Texas A&M entered into a partnership with the Posse Foundation in April 2012. Posse is an organization that identifies, recruits and trains public high school students with exceptional leadership and academic potential and sends them to selective institutions of higher education in multicultural teams — posses — of 10 students.
“Texas A&M University is truly honored to be one of the first partners of Posse Houston, and we look forward to welcoming the inaugural class of Posse Scholars from Houston and Atlanta to Aggieland,” said Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin.
“Both Texas A&M and the Posse Foundation share a similar goal of developing leaders of character, particularly those who come from diverse backgrounds,” Loftin added. “We see this partnership — developing talented students in the critical areas of science, technology, engineering and math —as a tangible extension of Texas A&M’s land-grant mission of serving our state and country.”
Kamari Brewer, director of Posse Houston, explained the selection process: “Each of the more than 500 students nominated for the elite Houston group underwent a rigorous three-stage interview process involving evaluation of all facets of their character, leadership skills and academic potential. The selected Posse scholars are now scheduled to undergo training for the next eight months.”
Scott McDonald, assistant vice president and executive director of admissions and records at Texas A&M, said, “I am very excited to have these first Posse scholars from both Houston and Atlanta on board for next fall. I was able to be part of the interview and selection process and was completely blown away by all the finalists. They carry the communication, critical thinking and leadership skills that will serve them well in college.”
Texas A&M has joined a group of approximately 40 of the nation’s most prestigious top-tier public and private universities partnering with the Posse Foundation, including the universities of Southern California, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, California-Berkeley, Bryn Mawr, Bucknell and Brandeis, all of which have had great success with Posse Scholars. Established and aptly named in 1989 when the organization’s founder overheard a student saying, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me,” the Posse Foundation has since selected 4,245 Posse Scholars who have been awarded about $500 million in scholarships by partner universities.
The Posse Foundation has chapters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., and now Houston. Posse works to connect urban high school students with great potential — many of whom would have been overlooked by traditional admissions practices such as SAT scores — to outstanding post-secondary educational opportunities.
Can 20 Posse Scholars really have an impact, especially at Texas A&M with a student population of 50,000? Evidence from the Posse Foundation website shows that Posse Scholars have built a reputation as dynamic leaders who make a visible difference on campuses across the country, regardless of size. They are invariably counted among the top leaders in student organizations, in serving their campus and community, and in high academic achievement at every university they attend. And, they are persisting and graduating at a rate of 90 percent — well above the national average.
As Posse’s founder and president, Deborah Bial, said: “These talented students truly represent the diversity of this nation. And they are, without question, going to become leaders of this country in every industry, occupation and profession.”
Dr. Karan L. Watson, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs, affirms that Texas A&M is committed to the concept that a diverse society requires diverse leadership. “Posse provides a strong, nationally acclaimed resource to help meet this need,” said Watson. “Texas A&M is looking forward to a long and rewarding partnership with Posse in which both the university and all future Posse Scholars reap tremendous benefits.”
Posse recognizes the considerable challenges facing universities such as Texas A&M that are committed to broadening educational access for underrepresented groups. Limited resources force public institutions to compete for diverse students from a finite pool of applicants who meet the traditional admissions criteria, Watson noted. Through a partnership with Posse, Texas A&M can expand the pool of qualified applicants and, in so doing, help realize the university’s most critical educational imperatives.
In fact, added McDonald, “It was an extremely tough decision deciding who to give the scholarships to. I wish we could have given them all one. I’m hopeful that many of the finalists not selected for the scholarship will consider choosing to attend Texas A&M. These are the types of students we want!”
According to Posse officials, by 2020 there will be more than 6,000 Posse alumni in leadership positions in the workforce. They will be sitting at tables where decisions are made, embodying the diverse backgrounds, interests and perspectives that characterize the American experience.
“It is good to know there will be Aggies among them, embodying the core values of Texas A&M, as well as those of the Posse Foundation,” said Loftin.