This success doesn't happen accidentally. The program requires Posse members to meet as a group every week for the first two years with a mentor provided by the college (in Colby's case, Sohne and Lisa Sweet, both from the Dean of Students Office). Posse members also take part in a Posse Plus retreat in February to which they invite friends, assembling a group that may include students, faculty, staff and administrators.
Colby Posse member Jeronimo Maradiaga '07 with co-workers at the Bronx Zoo, where Maradiaga worked last summer.
Illustration by Andrew Lichtenstien
The Posse Foundation is concerned that scholars' leadership on campus doesn't always lead to leadership roles after graduation. Posse is in the process of aggressively expanding its career program, one that already includes close relationships,and internship and job opportunities,with major corporations like Lehman Brothers and Bloomberg, the media conglomerate.
Posse administrators take pride in the performance of Posse students in the workplace and point to steadily expanding opportunities, both in the private sector and in nonprofits.
"My job is easy," said Laura Brief, national director of Posse's career programs. "We just have to get the door open a little bit and then the students go in, and they do so well that they break it wide open and are really pioneers for the rest of the students to come."
At Colby, administrators hope that the Posse students will be pioneers on Mayflower Hill as well. "Over time we hope that those students who come here as members of the Posses would get the word back to younger siblings, to counselors in their high schools," Beverage said.
In at least one case, that already has happened. When SusieLiu '07, a member of Posse 2, arrived on campus she was reunited with her best friend from Manhattan International High School, Jia Chen '06. "That was part of the reason she chose Colby," Chen said. "My friends in high school, when they applied for the Posse scholarship, they were, like, 'Which one should I choose?' I said, 'Choose Colby. Choose Colby.'"
In this way, students from Posse are adding to the breadth of their own experience, noted Castillo, the Posse trainer who graduated from Depauw. "What I got out of it was being able to see the world in a totally different way," he said. "New York is very diverse and it's very active and alive, but it's also a little bubble. This is a way to see what the rest of the country is like."
It's also a way to add different perspectives to the mélange of the student body on Mayflower Hill, as Colby looks to broaden the academic and social experience it offers. But could it be dismissed as window dressing, a quick fix for a college bent on diversifying its student body?
"Oh, not at all," said Steed, the Posse 1 member from Harlem. "And when you look at the financial commitment that the schools that come to Posse make,there are easier ways to display that you are friendly in that sort of diversifying way than to get into a program like Posse. So even a school that takes that first step shows that they really care.
"It's certainly a humungous step in the right direction."