For Summer Harris-Jones, support from a posse definitely equals success at the University of Virginia.
The kinesiology major is part of U.Va.’s first-ever Posse program, a nonprofit initiative that gives a select group of urban high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential the opportunity to attend a distinguished college, tuition-free.
Along with the nine other students in her posse from Houston, Summer went through a lengthy, selective application process just to be admitted to the Posse program—and then to U.Va.
Learning she was admitted to both was a thrill. “It was the best night ever!” Summer said.
Thomas C. Sorensen Professor of Political and Social Thought and Posse student mentor Michael J. Smith has already praised the program’s success on campus.
“It has been both a privilege and a pleasure to work closely with these students, who bring energy, intellectual drive and a remarkable commitment to academic excellence to the University,” he said. “Our community is enriched by their presence.”
The program not only gives overlooked students a leg up in the competitive college selection process, but offers a strong support group—a posse—in what can be overwhelming campus environments. Posse students like Summer receive four years of full tuition scholarships, along with exclusive leadership training opportunities, career counseling and networking.
To date, the Posse Foundation has recruited 6,264 Posse Scholars, who’ve won $805 million in scholarship dollars—and graduate at the stellar rate of 90 percent. U.Va.’s welcoming another 10 students from the Houston Posse chapter this fall.
Alumni backing for the program has already been strong, with support from Brad Singer (McIntire ’88), a partner of ValueAct Capital in San Francisco, and his wife Alexandra.
“As an appreciate graduate of the University and a long-serving board member of Posse, it was terrific to help bring together two institutions that make a substantial and positive contribution to our national community,” Singer said.
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