A posse for life: NC students receive nationally-recognized scholarship


Courtesy of Kesha Perkins

Senior Kesha Perkins (center) smiles with her posse at their acceptance ceremony on January 5 at the Fox Theatre. After months of interviews, the Boston scholars become a close-knit group.

Andrew Gasparini, Reporter, Photographer

Magnet seniors Kesha Perkins and Shelby Singleton received the Posse Scholarship, which includes four years of free tuition for college, on January 5 at Atlanta’s iconic Fox Theatre.

The Posse Foundation began in New York in 1989 when a student said, “I never would have dropped out of college if I had my posse with me,” to their former teacher, Deborah Bial. Ever since, the organization helps connect juniors and seniors to a partner university that offers free tuition for four years; Posse Atlanta includes Bard College, Boston University, Brandeis University, George Washington University, Texas A&M University, and the College of Wooster. To win the nationally-recognized award, thousands of students across the U.S. participate in extensive interviews that test how well one works in a group.

“You have to fill out an application, and then you have to go to the first round of interviews with 300 kids in it. I think that they really looked at how well you worked in a team,” Singleton said.

The foundation contacts the nominees nearly a month later regarding whether or not they will continue with the program. Afterwards, two Posse employees perform in-depth interviews with the students concerning their high school performance, future aspirations, leadership abilities, and knowledge about the students’ preferred universities. If chosen as a finalist, students complete an application to the partner college confirming their position.

“[In the final round], 25 students are vying for the college of their choice. It was mostly to see how you got along with people because whoever got the scholarship after the interview, that was your posse,” Perkins said.

Posse Foundation employees and college admissions workers question the finalists about their backgrounds and test their creative collaboration. Accepting the free-tuition award binds the Posse Scholar to their chosen partner school that they will attend along with nine other recipients.

“A posse has to have chemistry; they’re all about having people on your team,” Perkins said.

Each group meets every week leading up to their move-in, discussing what to expect in college ranging from social issues to financial responsibilities. The intent behind the meetings includes preparing the posse to take a campus by storm with outstanding leadership skills.

Perkins will attend Boston University this fall, majoring in Psychology and minoring in African-American studies. She never considered herself a leader before her Posse experience, but now she describes herself more extroverted among her group. Within her posse, Perkins believes she fills the “mom” role because she wants to ensure that everyone will succeed throughout the next four years.

Andrew Gasparini
Kesha sports her Boston Terrier pride and exudes her excitement for the next four years. Perkins fills the “mom” position in her posse caring for her friends’ success.

Singleton will prepare for her dream job of becoming Attorney General by studying Political Science and Sociology at George Washington University. She considers herself “the challenger” of her posse, pushing them to become the best leader possible. Singleton offers praises for the organization that lessened her parents’ burden of sending their daughter to a renowned private university.

Andrew Gasparini
Senior Shelby Singleton prepares for George Washington’s rigorous work with a thick book. Planning to attend law school, Singleton sees endless studying in her future.

“Posse will give me the skills, experience, and knowledge not only to dominate what I want to do on campus but also off campus,” Perkins said.