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The Next Posse Scholars Check Turf

At Atlanta students’ campus visit, the Koosh ball flies


Posse 1 and Posse 2, along with BU mentors Jeff Allen and Shiney James (CAS’99) (top row, far left), and Roberto Trevino (CAS’05) (top row, far right), senior assistant director of admissions, in the lobby of the SMG building. The next group of Posse scholars from the Atlanta area starts classes in the fall. Click on the video below to hear Posse 1 scholar Jordan Jemison (SMG'12) talk about leadership and life on campus. Photos by Kalman Zabarsky

For Atlanta high school senior and future BU freshman Danielle Galloway, math has helped her cope with growing up homeless.

“I love numbers,” she said during a recent campus visit. “To me, math applies to life, because in life there are steps you have to go through. And if you skip steps, most likely you will end up with the wrong answer.

“If I can do math, I can conquer anything.”

Galloway (CAS’13) is a member of BU’s second class of Posse students and the first in her family to go to college. She and the rest of the Atlanta scholars had breakfast recently with David Campbell, the University’s provost, during a whirlwind 24-hour trip to Boston; they also met with the dean of students, professors, and future classmates.

“I’ve never really had an apartment since I was six years old,” Galloway said after the meal. “My mom made some bad financial decisions. We’ve been in and out of shelters and family housing.”

Fortitude and perseverance, mental and academic, made Galloway stand out to the Posse Atlanta selection committee and BU admissions.

“Each and every student brings something unique to their Posse and to BU,” says Kelly Walter, executive director of admissions. “I noticed Danielle right away because of her warm smile and the manner in which she interacted with her peers, and once I spent some time with Danielle I learned that it was her drive and determination that had contributed to her success in high school. I have no doubt these same qualities will lead her to accomplish even more at Boston University.”

With programs in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta, the Posse Foundation connects leadership-oriented students in urban centers with participating universities, which in turn provide full-tuition scholarships. The idea: send a group of highly talented kids from similar backgrounds to boost one another’s chances of thriving in college, which can be a culturally bewildering place. Since 1989, Posse has placed 2,200 students at 32 elite colleges and universities, representing $220 million in scholarships. The organization has a 90 percent college graduation rate — significantly higher than the national average — and hopes to groom the next generation of America’s urban leaders.

During senior year in high school, the selected scholars nurture their bond during weekly training sessions with Posse leaders and mentors in Atlanta, where they tackle issues that have tripped up other students entering college from low-performing urban schools, such as time management, effective writing, and cross-cultural communication.

Campbell was a key figure in starting BU’s relationship with the Posse Foundation almost two years ago.

“You’re still pioneers,” he told the group over bacon and eggs and croissants. “We have not graduated a Posse class. You’re our sophomore class and we’re really counting on you to come through, and we know you can.”

“This year has been a really fantastic year for us to have Posse 1,” added Laurie Pohl, vice president for enrollment and student affairs. “You’ll have a lot of good mentors on campus with them.”

The inaugural Posse class is wrapping up its first year. Sharrod McClusky (CAS’12) says being surrounded by like-minded people has been a key to his success so far, which includes being the freshman representative to UMOJA, the black student union, and cofounder of a campus flag football team.

“It takes more than studying and getting good grades,” McClusky says. “I found that the true making of a college student lies within his or her inner circle, because if you’re not surrounded by people who share similar goals, then your journey as a student will be much more rigorous. Picking friends is practically the only thing a student has control over.”

This year, 500 candidates from the Atlanta area were considered for 20 spots — 10 at BU and 10 at the College of Wooster in Ohio. Mark Sterling (CAS’13), a senior at Norcross High School outside of Atlanta, was one of those chosen. He plans to major in computer science. “I want to double in computer engineering,” he said, “but I heard that’s a really difficult course load.”

Sterling recently became intrigued by spare computer parts lying around his mother’s office and used them to build his own computer. “I enjoy putting these things together — it’s so cool.” The high school senior is also the first in his family to attend college and knows he is setting the path for younger siblings. “If I go to school and my sister sees that I messed up and dropped out, then she’ll say, ‘Well Mark, did this, why can’t I?’”

Galloway can relate.

“Coming from my background, my siblings probably feel like they can’t do a lot and that they’re bound to be poor,” she said. “It’s only a mindset thing. I feel I’m way beyond being poor. I want to help the poor, but you can’t really help someone if you’re in the same situation.”

During their visit, the two Posses spent time together. A Koosh ball flew around a second floor room in the SMG building, a Posse signature that gives the holder the floor, as introductions were made. At the end of the meet-and-greet came some advice.

The number-one tip?

“North Face,” said Mohamed Kayad (ENG’12).

“It’s expensive,” added Schyler Cain (COM’12), “but well worth it.”

Click on the video below to hear Posse 1 scholar Jordan Jemison (SMG’12) talk about leadership and life on campus.

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To read about Posse 1’s road from Atlanta to Comm Ave, click here.

Caleb Daniloff can be reached at cdanilof@bu.edu. Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

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