Two Northsiders Receive POSSE Foundation Scholarship
By Lukas Hoffman
At a time when many seniors are learning of their college acceptances, two Northsiders learned they had achieved something especially exciting: the POSSE Foundation Scholarship. Llorenz Meliton, Adv. 903, and Mariana Rosas, Adv. 903, were both nominated and admitted through the POSSE process, earning full tuition scholarships to Cornell University and Pomona College respectively.
The POSSE Foundation is a nonprofit organization dedicated to find and train groups of students from all different backgrounds to form multicultural groups of ten called “Posses.” From there, students are put through an intensive pre-college training program, where they will then go on to America’s top universities through partnerships with the organization. POSSE has a goal of increasing intercultural communication and promoting leadership on college campuses, with each POSSE scholar receiving a full tuition scholarship.
Applying through POSSE is an arduous and intensive process. The first step is to receive a nomination, either by the student or by a community organization. After filling out preliminary information, applicants are brought in for interviews. The first round consists of a large group interview between fifty and seventy-five people where prospective candidates are asked to demonstrate leadership skills through group activities. Afterwards, they have twenty minutes to answer writing prompts about themselves and their interests. For those who make it to the second interview, students are placed in a more traditional setting, asked by POSSE staff members about extracurriculars, aspirations for college, and other straightforward questions. The third interview is also with a group, but only with the finalists present, cutting the numbers down to only around twenty students. In this round, candidates were asked to create presentations in small groups and answer rapid-fire questions. From here, applicants are informed about the POSSE Foundation’s decision and where they have been accepted. Unlike QuestBridge, POSSE applicants are still required to file a Common Application with their schools of choice, since they do not find out their POSSE status until after the application deadline.
For Meliton, this decision came one night over the phone. “It was surreal to hear that I received the scholarship. POSSE called me the night of the interview to tell me I received the scholarship, but they scared me a little bit. They called to see if they could ask me some questions about my application, and they ended up asking me what my favorite color was. When I responded blue, I was surprised to hear them say, ‘We were hoping you'd say red because you've been selected to be a part of Cornell POSSE 7!’ I was in shock, but really really happy.” Cornell POSSE 7 is the seventh group of scholars to be sent to the university through POSSE, in turn denoting this year as the seventh. Meliton was nominated through the Collegiate Scholars Program, a University of Chicago directive designed to prepare CPS students for leadership roles. Meliton is excited to be attending his dream school next fall, saying, “I'm really grateful for this opportunity, and could not have done it without the help from my family, friends, teachers, and the counseling office. I'm so lucky to have them in my life and it means a lot to me that they've supported me for all this time,”
In Rosas’ case, she heard in a phone call from POSSE that she would be attending Pomona College. “When I got the call that same night of the final interview informing me that I was a Pomona POSSE Scholar, I couldn't believe it. I ran to tell my mom and we hugged, cried, and celebrated. It was a very emotional moment filled with lots joy and excitement.” For her, preparing for next fall with fellow students is one of the most exciting things about POSSE. “I am glad to know that I won't be entering college alone, that I'll have this group of ten people that will be going through this new journey with me.”
For both students, POSSE has been the culmination of months of hard work and comes as a great joy just before winter break began. With the hard work done and their paths set, neither Meliton nor Rosas have to worry about regular decision applications. Come next fall, maybe you’ll see them on campus at Cornell or Pomona as new students and future leaders.