Graduating students from some of GW’s inaugural scholar cohorts discuss the impact being in their respective programs had on their overall growth as individuals.
By Briahnna Brown
For Glen Warren, a senior studying computer science and psychology in the George Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science, the university experience has been as rigorous as it has been rewarding.
Mr. Warren is one of the 10 students in GW’s first cohort of Posse Scholars, a program that brings a small group of students from Atlanta, a posse, to the university to support each other and to increase diversity and community engagement at GW. He said that being in his posse has benefitted him socially, academically and, at times, emotionally because of the immense level of support he received from his cohort throughout his time at GW.
"It's one of those things where it's like, yeah you all come to campus already knowing each other, but going through some of those real-life experiences while in college—it's really important to have a posse because it's really just a strong support network to have,” Mr. Warren said. “They were there from the beginning, and they're still here in the end."
Posse is one of several scholar cohort programs whose inaugural cohort of first-year students arrived at GW in fall 2016. Other programs include Say Yes to Education and the Cisneros Scholars program, which joined long-standing, merit-based scholarship programs at GW such as the Stephen Joel Trachtenberg (SJT) Scholarship. Scholar cohort programs are supported by the Office for Student Success, as well as faculty and staff mentors from across the university.
Nicole Mintz, a senior studying public health in the Milken Institute School of Public Health, is another Posse scholar in Mr. Warren’s cohort. She said that she owes her entire GW experience to being a Posse scholar. When she first got to GW, she struggled with imposter syndrome, an internalized doubt that an individual belongs, and with finding her identity, she said, and even considered transferring to another school because of it. The reason she stayed was because her posse helped her realize that she was not alone.
"It felt really good to have them notice that and then support me through it, but then also the fact that I was able to do that for some of them as well,” Ms. Mintz said. “They're definitely some of the strongest friendships I made in college."
Asia Jones, a senior who is also studying public health in Milken Institute SPH, came into GW wanting to be a doctor but quickly learned that public health was what she actually wanted to do all along. She was selected as an SJT scholar in 2016, a program that provides Washington, D.C., high school students with full-ride scholarships covering all four years of their undergraduate education.
Being a D.C. native made Ms. Jones a “unicorn” on GW’s campus, which made her feel special and unique. The SJT scholarship brought her into GW with students that look like her, she said, and she feels like she’s known her cohort for her years beyond their time together.
“In college, you need a support system and that's the best thing about the scholarship," Ms. Jones said. "Whatever we wanted to do as an individual, we always knew we could come back to our home with the rest of the scholars."
Ms. Jones said that she learned gratitude from her program because of the opportunities it has given her. Nicholas Tyre, a senior studying international development in the Elliott School of International Affairs, shared that sentiment of gratitude as a Say Yes to Education scholar. Mr. Tyre came to GW as the “classic, 18-year-old idealist,” he said. Even though being an idealist in D.C. presented some challenges, Mr. Tyre said he was able to find support at GW and through the Say Yes to Education program.
“I have spent much consideration on how few students of my background, raised on a public-school education, receive opportunities such as this scholarship and a GW degree,” Mr. Tyre said. “I now better understand and appreciate Say Yes to Education's mission to bringing higher education to all students, not just a privileged few.”
Ian Haimowitz, a senior who also studies international affairs in the Elliott School, came to GW with no expectations, but he was blown away by the opportunities he was afforded being a Cisneros scholar. The Cisneros program selects 10 students in each of GW’s incoming classes to take part in a leadership development program to continue engagement in the Latinx community.
Through the program, he said he will always remember being in the third row to see Emmanuel Macron when he visited GW, as well as the opportunity to meet Michelle Obama in Philadelphia and visit the White House multiple times. He said he built a family through the cohort, and that family opened those doors to opportunity for him while also helping Mr. Haimowitz figure out who he is.
"There's so many different definitions of what being Latino can be, but through Cisneros, we bring all of that together to show you that you're not that different, you share a common thread,” Mr. Haimowitz said. “You all have the opportunity to make a difference, make a change for everybody."