Next September, Mount Holyoke College will welcome ten first-year students, MHC’s third cohort of Posse Foundation scholars, from Miami.
The Posse program was developed on the premise that students are more likely to succeed if their peers – Posse – are available to them for support when they enter college. Now groups typically composed of ten students from the same community are selected by participating colleges each year. Three years ago, MHC began partnering with the Posse Foundation to admit Posse scholars from Miami high schools to the College.
Posse 3’s recently appointed mentor, MHC’s long-serving tennis coach and physical education department coordinator Aldo Santiago, is excited to meet his cohort.
“It is such a great opportunity to help this group of young women adjust to Mount Holyoke,” said Santiago. “I hope that I can provide an environment in which they feel welcomed and supported by our institution and each other. At the same time, I hope to encourage them to become independent and comfortable making their own decisions as they progress through their first years in college.”
MHC President Lynn Pasquerella helped select the Posse 3 cohort when she visited Miami this past fall.
“Mount Holyoke and the Posse Foundation share a commitment to promoting access to academic excellence for extraordinary students from all socioeconomic backgrounds,” she said. “I was thrilled to participate in the selection of our third class of Posse students who, as role models and mentors, will play a critical role in shaping the next generation of women leaders.”
Santiago joins current Posse 1 mentor Tanya Williams, associate dean of students for diversity and inclusion, and Posse 2 mentor Leah Glasser, dean of first-year studies. Williams and Glasser agree that while being a Posse mentor requires a significant time commitment, the benefits to the scholars, and the mentors themselves, are substantial.
“Mentoring the Posse scholars has been rewarding to me as someone who strives to work toward understanding the complete student experience,” said Williams. “My mentoring of the Posse has made me a better administrator and teacher for all students because I am able to see inside the full college experience for students as they balance academics, extracurricular activities, personal life, family life, and their own development as an adult. “
Glasser says her mentorship of Posse 2 is centered on helping the scholars meet their academic and leadership potential, synthesizing all that they are learning at Mount Holyoke, and accessing opportunities.
“The Posse scholars play an active part because they are assertive, inquisitive, and open to suggestions, “ said Glasser. “They engage and connect, and they are a terrific team.”
Being a Posse mentor, she said, has helped her in her role as dean of first-year studies. “It’s had a huge impact on how I advise faculty on the best approaches to mentoring students.”
Kala Jones ’15, a member of Posse 2, says she is grateful for Glasser’s counsel and advice.
“Mount Holyoke seemed very scary and daunting from Miami,” she recalled. “But Leah was there to help me every step of the way.”
Jones, who is majoring in neuroscience and behavior, described Glasser’s role as “getting her on track” from the start.
“Right from the beginning she helped me to fix my first-semester schedule, think about organizations to join. She calmed me down and offered encouragement in reference to my classes. Honestly, I don’t know where I would be without Leah on my side,” she said.
Santiago said he is looking forward to his new role.
“I strongly believe that my job as a mentor is to be available to guide as needed, to exchange ideas and points of view,” he said. “I will challenge the students to think independently, extract the most out of their day-to-day experiences, and find their own answers.”
Meanwhile, MHC community members will be involved in Posse activities at the Posse Plus Retreat 2012, scheduled for Friday to Sunday, February 3-5, at the Becket-Chimney Corners YMCA Conference Center in Becket. According to the retreat’s webpage, this year’s theme, "Born This Way: Gender and Sexuality," will help participants reflect on “how gender and sexuality shape our college experience and how other facets of our identity—our race, our class, our politics, our religion—interact with gender and sexuality.”
“Posse is the gift that keeps on giving,” said MHC’s Posse liaison Diane Anci, dean of admission and interim vice president for enrollment and college relations. “Our scholars bring so much to our community. I know they will go on to make a difference at home in Miami and all around the country and world. Through Posse, we’ve learned so much about the value of teams and the impact of great mentoring. I look forward to this weekend.”