Posse scholar Shelby Singleton and Posse “Plusser” Flavio Corsi Mendez said the summit showed them new perspectives on sometimes controversial topics.
By Briahnna Brown
Growing up in Atlanta, many of Shelby Singleton’s peers tried to become Posse scholars.
A rising junior studying political communication in the George Washington University School of Media and Public Affairs, Ms. Singleton was selected to be a scholar with the Posse Foundation during her senior year of high school. The Posse Foundation identifies students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential that may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes and prepares them for admission to the nation’s top colleges.
The university selects students to attend GW as Posse Scholars in groups of 10, a posse. The numbers allow them to support each other and to increase diversity and community engagement at GW. Ms. Singleton’s posse has learned about diversity and leadership while building a support system with each other.
The Posse Foundation also facilitates an annual PossePlus Retreat, a three-day, mid-winter retreat where students, faculty and staff spend the weekend discussing national issues that impact campuses like GW. At this year’s GW retreat, Ms. Singleton and rising junior Flavio Corsi Mendez were nominated to participate in the national PossePlus Summit this summer.
The national summit at Deloitte University in Westlake, Tex., brought together 150 student delegates who participated in PossePlus Retreats across the country to discuss student perspectives on issues such as climate change, free speech, education, public safety and identity.
"It was amazing being able to be in a room full of students that came from different Posse schools all around the nation,” Ms. Singleton said of the summit.
The summit was different from the retreat, she said, because during the summit, more people disagreed with each other, which led to more fruitful discussions. She also had the opportunity to hear solutions students developed for problems in their communities, and the experience left her feeling optimistic about the potential for positive change.
“I feel like sometimes living in D.C., it’s easy to hear about all of the things that are going wrong in this nation...it was really great to hear all of these solutions,” Ms. Singleton said. “I had never been more hopeful for our future than being in that room and hearing people have step-by-step ways to fix these issues."
While many of the discussions during the summit took place in small groups, there was a larger collective discussion that SMPA Director Frank Sesno moderated with all the students at the summit. That discussion, titled “State of Our Union,” was broadcast on Telemundo, and students candidly shared perspectives on social issues the country is facing.
Mr. Corsi Mendez, an international affairs and political science double major in the Elliott School of International Affairs and the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences, respectively, was invited as a “Plusser,” or a non-Posse scholar, to the GW retreat earlier this year. The group discussion was his favorite part of the national summit, he said, and it allowed him to get a lot out of the overall experience. He said that he was surprised to learn the extent to which the issues they discussed were related to each other, such as the connections between race, education, gentrification and economic opportunity.
“I thought the level of ideas and comments made was through the roof, and the experience left me very motivated and asking myself a lot of tough questions,” Mr. Corsi Mendez said. “It definitely makes understanding the issues a little more complex, but also much more worthwhile.”