Ninth group of Posse Scholars brings diversity, leadership to Centre’s campus

Posted by Centre News in Campus, News 25 Sep 2014

Posse IX Group Pic PSThe class of 2018 is the largest and most diverse in Centre College history, due in part to the thriving Posse Program, which sent its ninth group of scholars to campus this fall.

The Posse Program recruits outstanding young leaders in urban school systems in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Washington, D.C., Miami, Houston and New Orleans, preparing them to succeed at some of the nation’s top liberal arts colleges. High-achieving students selected to participate in the program form supportive, multicultural teams, or “posses,” of 10 students to attend partnering schools. Centre began its partnership with the Boston office of the Posse Program in 2005.Sarah Murray Headshot

Posse Scholars receive full-tuition merit scholarships at Centre and are expected to be leaders on campus, particularly in creating an atmosphere that is welcoming for students of all backgrounds. Each new class of Posse Scholars is mentored by a faculty or staff member; Posse 9’s mentor is Associate Professor of Education Sarah Murray (pictured right).

Murray’s role is to provide constant support and guidance for the Scholars’ academic, social and personal growth during their time at Centre. She meets with the whole group weekly and with each scholar individually every other week in order to assist them with reaching their goals.

Posse 9 met with Murray for the first time after Opening Convocation on the Newlin Hall stage, a particularly meaningful setting considering that their Centre Experience will come full circle in four years when they return to the stage for Commencement.

“It was really important for me as a mentor to see them standing up there knowing that in four years they will be back on that stage graduating,” says Murray. “I feel honored to have the opportunity to work with this wonderful group of students and watch them develop over their time here at Centre.”

Though the transition from Boston to Danville is often challenging, the Scholars can count on the encouragement and support from their mentor as well as each other.

“I loved the idea of going to school with a group of people I knew in order to have a support system away from home,” says Gigi Gray ’18, a member of Posse 9. “We know that we can always rely on each other.”

In addition to the close ties the students make within their Posse, Centre’s strong sense of community has also been essential for their adjustment to small-town life.

“The best part about Centre is the people,” says Joao DepinaMonteiro ’18, a new Posse Scholar who was born in Cape Verde, an island country off the coast of West Africa. “Every time I go to Cowan Dining Hall I wave and say hi to about 15 different people. Even outside of campus, people always smile in your direction and say hi to you.”

Another Posse Scholar new to campus, Dzeneta Velic ’18, originally from Bosnia, was pleasantly surprised by how quickly she felt at home at Centre.

“I love Centre so far. The beautiful campus, small classroom size and friendly Southern people have made the adjustment from the city a whole lot easier than I expected,” says Velic.

Now that they have acclimated to life at Centre, Posse 9 is looking forward to making their mark on the College by taking on leadership roles and sharing their diverse perspectives.

Peter O’Donnell ’18, a member of Posse 9 who holds dual citizenship in Chile and the U.S., emphasizes that the diversity Posse offers can be broadly defined.

“Posse brings a new point of view and a new way of thinking for many people here at Centre,” he says. “We each have our own way of expressing ourselves.”

Ultimately, the Scholars are confident that the diversity they bring to campus will have a positive impact on Centre.

“Most of us come from different backgrounds and experiences than the people on campus, and being able to share our stories and learn about others makes Centre truly very diverse,” says Velic.

by Caitlan Cole

Photo: Posse 9, left to right: Peter O’Donnell, Dzeneta Velic, Joao DepinaMonteiro, Jailene Paz, Mark Figueroa, Amariah Ritchie, Eliana Paniagua, Ricardo Ortiz, Gigi Gray and Johnny Chen.