For first-year Posse scholar Isabel Urquiza ’22, of La Mirada, Calif., “The opportunity to go to college with my Posse and be welcomed to Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a mentor reminds me of home and my family.”
One of the nation’s most prestigious and successful college access programs, the Posse Foundation grew from the idea that sending a group — or “posse” — of 10 students to college together to act as a support system for one another could bolster collegiate success and graduation rates. Since 2012, Hobart and William Smith Colleges are proud to be a partner institution that has shown commitment to the foundation’s mission recruiting from the Los Angeles, California area.
After rigorous selection and an eight-month, pre-collegiate training program, the newest Posse cohort arrived on the HWS campus this fall as part of the Classes of 2022. “I cannot wait to continue my journey with my posse and mentor who I consider my family. I know they will always be there for me,” Urquiza says.
“Posse brings to HWS an amazing group of students who have increased the rigor and expectations on campus,” says Associate Professor of Psychology Brien Ashdown who serves as Posse mentor for the Classes of 2022. “Every time I hear a faculty member or a student talk about having a Posse Scholar in class, they talk about how much they bring to the classroom.”
From academic guidance to home-cooked meals, Posse mentors offer critical support to students as they transition to college life and develop into leaders on campus. Whereas other partner schools focus on recruiting faculty members, the Colleges are unique for inviting both faculty and staff members to serve as mentors. This allows for scholars to interact with multiple offices across campus and gain an intimate knowledge of HWS that they may otherwise not develop without a mentor’s guidance.
Associate Vice President of Campus Safety Martin Corbett, now in his second year as a Posse mentor, enjoys helping students navigate in their new surroundings. “It’s hard for the Posse to be so far from home, in weather they couldn’t understand until they experienced it, trying to negotiate academic rigor that is so different from high school and all while at a place that is very new to them. But in those moments when I am able to help them with something, or just be there to listen when they need that, I feel incredible in my role being a mentor,” he says.
Both Ashdown and Corbett were introduced to Posse after attending the annual Posse Plus Retreat. After witnessing the leadership of the Posse scholars, who facilitated discussions throughout the weekend, both mentors knew they wanted be part of the program.
“While I’ve only been able to attend one Posse Plus Retreat, my month on campus as a mentor with HWS Posse 6, and my mentor training, has better prepared me to support not only Posse scholars, but all of my students,” says Ashdown.
After the first two years of college conclude, the formal mentor program ends, but scholars and mentors often forge lifelong relationships that transcend that initial period of guidance.
“My mentor is someone who I will always credit for my current success. We talked about plans for my future and my four years here at HWS when I was only a first-year. She kept me accountable from declaring my major, to studying abroad, and writing me recommendations for internships,” says Saoirse Scott ’19, of Hawthorne, Calif., who was mentored by Stacey Pierce, former Assistant Vice President for Campus Life at HWS, who is now serving as Associate Vice President in the national Posse office in New York City.