January 12, 2010

Members of Bucknell's Los Angeles Posse were honored at a recent awards ceremony. Photos by Sylvia Sukop '82

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By Julia Ferrante

LEWISBURG, Pa. — A group of 11 students from Los Angeles will join Bucknell University this fall as the University expands its partnership with the Posse Foundation to the West Coast.

Bucknell will become one of just two institutions to host three "posses" with the addition of the Los Angeles group, offering full-tuition scholarships each year to more than 30 promising high school students who otherwise would not have the opportunity to attend a top college or university.

Bucknell also partners with the Boston and Washington, D.C., Posse Foundation chapters. The University of Wisconsin-Madison is Posse's other tri-city school.

"These universities are doing something remarkable," Posse Foundation President and Founder Deborah Bial said when the partnership was announced this summer. "They're helping to redefine merit in higher education and, by example, demonstrating alternative ways of achieving equity while maintaining the highest standards. That takes extraordinary vision and leadership."

Civic engagement
Bucknell also joins Mount Holyoke as the first partner institutions to recruit scholars for Posse's new Civic Engagement Program, designed to prepare students to effectively address social justice issues. This program, underwritten by a five-year grant from The New World Foundation of NYC, requires each Posse Scholar - regardless of academic major - to participate in a summer internship with a community based organization.

"We are excited to expand the Posse program at Bucknell," said Kurt Thiede, vice president for enrollment management. "We are particularly looking forward to having a group that has demonstrated a commitment to civic engagement, which is an important component of student life on this campus."

Beginning this month, LA Posse students accepted to Bucknell and seven other partner institutions will meet weekly for an intensive program to build academic writing skills and otherwise prepare for college.

"The students' demonstrated commitment to activism and building community in their neighborhoods was a major factor in their being awarded scholarships," wrote Sylvia Sukop, Bucknell Class of '82, in a recent column about Bucknell's Posse program for The Huffington Post. Sukop, along with fellow California alumni Peter O'Keeffe, Class of '72, and Kathy Vizas, Class of '79, participated in various stages of the selection process.

Building connections
The Posse Foundation began in 1989 after Bial, the founder and president, heard a young student say, "I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me." Posse now is one of the most comprehensive college access and youth leadership programs in the country, with sites in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Washington, D.C. Bucknell became a partner in 2004, enrolling its first Posse in the fall of 2005.

Posse identifies, recruits and trains student leaders from public high schools and sends them in multicultural teams - or posses - to top colleges and universities. Posse students are supported by scholarships, mentors and their peers as they navigate their way through college.

More than 3,100 Posse Scholars have been awarded $330 million in four-year, full-tuition merit scholarship from the organization's partner institutions. More than 70 percent of the scholars have started or led campus organizations and 90 percent graduate, a rate that is significantly higher than the national average.

Eight partner schools
This year, 80 students from Los Angeles were awarded $11 million in tuition scholarships from Bucknell, Dickinson College, Grinnell College, Kalamazoo College, Tulane University, the University of California at Berkeley, UCLA and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Bucknell's Los Angeles posse includes the following students, listed with their intended majors:

  • Saba Davis, View Park Prep High School, international relations
  • Rose Dimal, Monroe High School, accounting
  • Oswaldo Galicia, Canoga Park Senior High School, mechanical engineering
  • Hernan Herrera, Monroe High School, undecided
  • Asia Hundley, California Academy of Math and Science, political science
  • Jessica Jara, Huntington Park High School, elementary education
  • Dajah Massey, Viewpoint School, civil engineering
  • Reyes Mendoza, Elizabeth Learning Center, computer science
  • Daniel Narvaez, Marshall Fundamental High School, civil engineering
  • Stephanie Pujadas, Granada Hills Charter High School, management
  • Adriana Zermeno, Centennial High School, psychology

Contact: Division of Communications

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