Posse Foundation students head to DePauw this fall

Friday, January 16, 2009

Justin Agrelo and Sasha Pena, both of Kelvyn Park High School, Chicago have received four-year, full tuition scholarships from the Posse Foundation reports the Chicago bilingual paper Extra.

They will both attend DePauw University this fall.

The Posse Foundation identifies, recruits, and trains student leaders from urban public high schools to form multicultural teams called "posses."

Before coming to DePauw for an official interview, new university President Brian Casey visited the campus. He toured the facility with some kids who were part of The Posse Foundation.

Casey was impressed by the enthusiasm and fervor the students showed for the school. He told the BannerGraphic, in an interview shortly after he arrived in Greencastle, that he was excited to have Posse kids on the DePauw Campus.

He went on to explain the name of the group, which was a result of one student saying he wished he had his "posse" (slang for a group of friends) with him.

The program itself is designed around promising minority students attending universities.

Twenty years ago, an education specialist named Deborah Bial noted that these students were failing. In answer, she created the Posse Foundation.

The teams of 10-12 students enroll together at top-tier colleges and universities nationwide to pursue academic programs, and DePauw is one of the schools to partner with the program. They have been part of the program since 1996 when they became the first college in the nation to host two Posse groups from large cities.

The graduation rate of those participating in the Posse program is 90 percent.

According to the foundation's Web site, www.possefoundation.org, "the concept of a Posse works for both students and college campuses, and is rooted in the belief that a small diverse group of talented students -- a Posse -- carefully selected and trained can serve as a catalyst for increased individual and community development."

The program goes to the next level as well. They provide scholars with the tools and opportunities they need to be eligible for the most competitive and career enhancing jobs and internships by giving them key components through an Internship Program, the Alumni Career Network and Career Counseling Services.

The Posse Program has had great success over the past years placing 2,200 students into 28 colleges and universities. Over $220 million in scholarships have been awarded to students in the program.

The program sends students to top-tier colleges and universities nationwide to pursue their academics and help promote cross-cultural communication. DePauw has partnered with the Posse Foundation since 1996 and became the first college in the nation to host two Posse groups (from New York and Chicago).

Of the 1,756 students from Chicago who applied for the scholarship, 84 were accepted including the two Kelvyn Park High School students.

Both seventeen year-olds received $125,000 to attend DePauw over the next four years.

"If you have a degree no one can take that from you," Agrelo said.

"If you don't have money, don't stop trying. There is always something out there to help you." He told Extra.

"I want to be a role model for my sisters," said Pena, who will be the first member of her family to attend college.

Posse Foundation founder Deborah Bial provided the commencement address to DePauw's Class of 2008 last May.

For information on the Posse Foundation visit their Web sit at www.possefoundation.org.

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