BU’s Posse Scholars, urban public high school students with major academic and leadership potential who receive a four-year, full-tuition scholarship, describe the experience as transformative. But the program has also been life-changing for one of its group advisors, Nancy Lowenstein.
“I really like the relationship that you can build with your students in terms of mentoring,” says Lowenstein (Sargent’87), a two-time group mentor to BU’s Posse Foundation chapter and a Sargent College clinical associate professor of occupational therapy, about why she enjoys the gig. “I just love seeing students grow, change, and find themselves, find their identities or their passion. They can go from sometimes being very sure of what they want to do, change their minds, or even realize they aren’t so sure of what they want to do. College helps them gain confidence.”
Since the Posse Foundation’s founding almost 25 years ago, the nonprofit has recruited more than 10,000 public high school students; 90 percent of its students graduate from college. BU began its Posse partnership in 2008.
Lowenstein came to BU in 1999 and began serving as an undergraduate advisor as well as coaching Boston Public Schools Community Service Award scholars, public schools grads who receive their full calculated financial aid. When a call went out to staff looking for Posse mentors, she decided to volunteer with the University’s fifth Posse class, who graduated from BU in 2016.
An occupational therapist, Lowenstein sees her role as helping people function and solve problems in their daily lives. She also believes her research focus is one of the big reasons why she’s an excellent advisor.
“Occupational therapists are trained in group dynamics, so we look at how groups function. Posse is very much about group dynamics,” she says. “We also are trained in lifespan development, so understanding the teenage years is key. There were a lot of skills that just all came together.”
In Lowenstein’s Sargent College office, the Posse love shines through. She displays photographs of her two cohorts, along with gifts they’ve given her and mementos of their time together (like the purple wig from a Michael Jackson lip-synch performance). She formed deep bonds with the students; in fact, the Posse 10 group came to her house for a graduation dinner in 2021 when that year’s Commencement ceremonies were partially disrupted by the pandemic.
“I think the skills that I bring as an occupational therapist, in terms of helping with group dynamics, and then my love of mentoring and advising undergraduates come together with Posse,” she says. “It is a perfect marriage.”
In our Office Artifacts series, BU Today highlights interesting artifacts professors and staff display in their offices. Have a suggestion about someone we should profile? Email email@example.com.