When HWS’ seventh cohort of Posse Scholars arrives on campus in the fall, there will be familiar faces on hand to greet them. Kelly McLaughlin, director of operations and technical support at HWS, has been chosen as the mentor for the group of 11 members of the Classes of 2023. McLaughlin, Vice President for Enrollment and Dean of Admissions John Young and Vice President for Campus Life Robb Flowers met the incoming students at a Los Angeles award ceremony in January.
One of the most successful college access and youth leadership development programs in the country, the Posse Foundation identifies high school youth with academic and leadership potential who may have been overlooked by standard practices and supports them throughout their college years. They will now undergo an eight-month pre-collegiate training program.
As a mentor, McLaughlin supports the scholars in three focus areas: academic, social and career. She will help the students transition from high school to college with the goal of graduating within four years. During the students’ first two years, McLaughlin will meet with the cohort weekly and with each individual student biweekly.
At the Los Angeles ceremony, representatives from nine institutions, including HWS, were on hand to formally accept and welcome their group. Each student was presented with a white rose and certificate marking their membership in a posse.
“It was an incredibly emotional evening where the students were officially welcomed into both the HWS and Posse communities,” says McLaughlin. “These young men and women are smart and determined and have already accomplished so much.” She will meet with the students again in March and, finally, at a retreat in Los Angeles in July, as they finish their pre-collegiate training.
HWS welcomed its first Posse cohort in 2012, and is one of only 57 colleges and universities nationally who are part of the Posse program, which has a 90 percent graduation success rate. In April 2018, HWS Trustee Bill Whitaker ’73, L.H.D.’97 was named to Posse’s national board. In 2010, President Barack Obama gave a portion of his $1.4 million Nobel Prize award to the organization to continue its work—one of only 10 organizations he chose to recognize.
McLaughlin, who has been at HWS since 2005, was previously a desktop service line manager with Eastman Kodak Company and served as regional vice president for HDI, an organization that supports service management and support professionals in the IT sector. She earned her B.A. in journalism from State University of New York College at Buffalo.