A day before Lafayette’s larger Commencement ceremony, 17 Posse scholars held their own graduation ceremony, an emotional, intimate, and reflective ceremony with their mentors and family members.

“There’s something to be said about the fact that Posse has been on campus for 22 years,” says Tim Cox, dean of advising and co-curricular programs. “The first graduating class was in 2006. And since then, we have turned out major leaders and led cultural changes on campus.”

Founded in 1989, the Posse Foundation recruits diverse groups of 10 to 12 public high school students with academic excellence and leadership potential, and works to enroll them in top-tier schools. Many Posse scholars are the first from their families to attend college.

Lafayette selects Posse cohorts from New York and Washington, D.C. Scholars are assigned a mentor before they come to campus and remain with their posse for four years. Mentors meet their posse groups before classes begin at Lafayette. Over four years, both mentors and students meet privately and in group meetings, supporting and encouraging one another.

Backed by such a strong network of support, Posse scholars at Lafayette over the years have become student body presidents, prestigious award winners, valedictorians, writing assistants, tutors, and athletes.

“They’re everywhere,” Cox observes. “The 22 years of leadership speaks for itself. It’s a community of scholars led by our amazing faculty.”

“As much as Posse is home, it’s also the north star I’ve used for four years to tirelessly fight and chase my change,” says Ashley King ’24 of the New York Posse and a member of the graduation committee. “Posse has afforded me the opportunity to study abroad in London, travel to Baltimore to collaborate on an economic development project, support our Career Center, and build Caribbean cultural events for the Lafayette community to learn and enjoy.”

Without Posse, Lafayette would have been unknown to Heavenly Anderson ’24 of the Washington, D.C., Posse and also a member of the graduation committee.

“I’m grateful to have had my Posse experience at Lafayette because it has allowed me to experience the most unique and fast-paced four years of my life with some truly inspiring and creative individuals,” Anderson says. “Being a part of Posse confirmed for my high school self that I didn’t have to be the best of the best at something or develop revolutionary work to be a leader and a valued part of my community.”

Gathered on Saturday morning in the Wilson Room at Pfenning Alumni Center, the Posse graduates heard from Louise Frazier, associate director of admissions and coordinator of student success, who observed the growth of their posses over their entire four years. Following tradition, each student passed the microphone to share memories and thank parents, family members, mentors, and friends.

Other presenters were Clifford Reiter, professor of mathematics and New York 19 Posse mentor; Lawrence Malinconico, associate professor of geology and geophysics and Washington, D.C., 15 Posse mentor; Dean Alexis Smith, first-year class dean, and advisor to the Posse Leadership Board; Catherine Starks, a trainer from the Washington, D.C., Posse; and Kaz Boschen, program director from the New York Posse.

One of the most poignant moments in the Posse graduation occurred when each grad was called to the podium to receive their Posse cord from their faculty mentor.

“It’s such an emotional, full circle moment,” Cox observes. “It is a combination of the promise that we made to these students when they first entered the College, that we would take care of them while they go through their four years, help them form a community, help them maximize their full potential, and allow them to become the change agents they want to be. And their parents entrusted us, right, to help develop their sons and daughters, and help them become the leaders that they ultimately want to become.”

This year’s Posse ceremony was even more significant as these graduating seniors never experienced a traditional high school graduation because of the pandemic. Their high school ceremonies were held remotely in living rooms or in parking lots.

“This was the time where they truly got a chance to enjoy every moment that graduation provides and take it all in,” Cox says. “When their name was called on Saturday morning, that’s the moment I really hope they appreciate and remember.”

“I’m grateful to have had my Posse experience at Lafayette because it has allowed me to experience the most unique and fast-paced four years of my life with some truly inspiring and creative individuals,” Anderson says.

“All I ever needed to do was show up 100% myself and stay true to my ambitions. Posse-love means so much to me because I’ve had strangers open their homes to me, contribute financially to my education, mentor me, and overall show me immense care and love for simply being a part of their family,” she adds.

Posse is not just a scholarship, nor is it confined to those selected.

“No matter what part of the country you’re in or from, your posse is who chooses to grow through life with you; the love and support you carry with you everywhere is Posse,” Anderson says. “Upon graduating, I’m excited to connect with my Posse cousins across the country and continue to pay forward the love and support I’ve received over the years.”

Reflecting on her Posse experience, Jordan Shaibani ’24 of the Washington, D.C. Posse, and a member of the graduation committee says the Posse Foundation works hard to support the future leaders.

“Not only does it help provide incredible academic opportunities for students across the country, but it also creates a family,” she says. “The Posse Scholars on this campus are amazing, and I feel so honored to be connected to them through this organization.”

Every facet of campus is filled with the “leadership and love of those who are in Posse,” adds Shaibani, noting that less than 3% of students on campus are Posse Scholars but their presence is distinct.

“Countless awards, honors, scholarships, and leadership positions are given to these scholars. Each student puts so much time and care into all the organizations, classes, and commitments they make at Lafayette,” she says.

“More importantly, a posse is a family, and I’m so fortunate to be part of something as incredible as the Posse family at Lafayette. It has given me a community and a home. I love my posse and I know I can turn to them whenever I need anything,” Shaibani says. “My Lafayette experience would not be the same without the Posse love I’ve been shown on this campus. I know the community doesn’t go away after graduation the Posse family is forever. The organization extends its arms across the country and the world. I am so thankful for the opportunity and family posse has given me.”

Posse provides a home while away at college, King notes.

“Whether it be the shared common identity, the familiar face across the room, or annual events, Posse has routinely made me feel like I belong somewhere, and it’s right here at Lafayette amongst generations of students, Posse or not, who in being themselves have left an indelible mark on this campus,” she says.

“I am endlessly grateful to the Posse organization and my own posse, Posse ’19, for showing me what selfless investment in the possibility and potential of others looks like. We will forever be bound by this journey to pursue our intellectual goals, find ourselves, and enjoy life! Thank you, Posse.”

Posse members smile.


Posse scholar graduates

Washington, D.C., posse: Heavenly Anderson; Natalie Beckford; Wilmer Carranza; Onab Falak; Ronald Grose; Fahad Habona; Jordan Shaibani; Matwos Tadesse.

New York posse: Md Anindo; Isaac Gallop; Rob Gillies; Nazary Gonzalez; Ashley King; Daryannos Kinney; Satuna Mowrin; Eline Pellicano; Bentu Saho.


Categorized in: Academic News, Class of 2024, Commencement 2024, Featured News, News and Features, Posse Scholars, Students
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