Teamwork Makes the (College) Dream Work

“When I got the call about getting into the Posse program, the first thing I did was cry — but they were not tears of sadness, they were tears of happiness, relief, excitement, and accomplishment. The first person I told was my mother. I told her ‘Mom, I’m going to college!‘ before crying again and hugging her tightly.”

Saira-and-MomSaira Carreto (left) and her Mother at a ceremony with the Posse Foundation.

Saira Carreto, from Chelsea High School in Boston, will attend Centre College in Kentucky this fall, through a unique program called the Posse Foundation. Posse identifies, recruits, and trains young people with extraordinary leadership potential, who then receive full-tuition scholarships from one of Posse’s partner colleges and universities.

Just like Summer Search, the majority of Posse Scholars are first-generation college students. Saira, who is one of four Summer Search Boston students to earn a Posse scholarship this year, expressed just how powerful it was for her to have the opportunity to be the first in her family to go to college.

“I am an immigrant from Mexico who came to this country at five years old, with a younger sister and a single teen mother who never got the chance to finish high school or go to college,” she explained. “So, knowing that I was going to get the chance to go to college and make mine and my mother’s dreams come true was very overwhelming.”

Fellow Summer Searcher Christelle Narcisse, from Boston International High School, had a similar reaction when she got the news that she’d be receiving a scholarship to attend Union College in upstate New York.

“I felt grateful and proud when I found out I got the Posse scholarship. At first, I couldn’t believe it, to realize how great of an opportunity I received. It meant I am closer to college, to pursuing my dreams and goals, and getting the education that my parents didn’t get the chance to have.”

Cristelle_UnionChristelle Narcisse (right) celebrating her acceptance to Union College with her Summer Search mentor Pedro Suncar at a Posse event.

Posse and Summer Search both work to support and empower young people to succeed and become the leaders of tomorrow, using mentoring and peer connection. This shared mission is why Posse has been an impactful partner of Summer Search Boston for many years.

Posse believes that a small, diverse group of talented students — a Posse — carefully selected and trained, can serve as a catalyst for individual and community development. While on campus, scholars regularly check-in with their Posse mentor and meet with their group of peers.

Saira with her Centre College Posse groupSaria Carreto with her Centre College Posse.

The supportive “posse/group” structure has been an appealing piece of their program for many Summer Searchers. In fact, as Judy Wang from Boston Latin High School explains, it closely resembled her own Summer Search experience.

I liked the idea of going into college with a group. My [Summer Search] mentor shared her experience of going [to college] with a group of minority students in a program, and it really gave me reassurance that this is what I wanted. When I went to Costa Rica [on a summer program with Deer Hill Expeditions], I went with a group of Summer Searchers from all over the country. I felt this bond and connection. I wanted this same feeling when I go to college. I was so immensely happy that my future would be set with an amazing group of people who are like-minded.”

Judy in Costa Rica with Deer HillJudy Wang on her Summer Search service-learning program in Costa Rica with Deer Hill.

That future will be at Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania, where her sister is also a Posse Scholar!

As Judy mentioned, conversations with her mentor helped her decide to apply to Posse. And those conversations will continue as Summer Search Post-Secondary Program staff stay in touch, connecting at least once every quarter to provide additional support and resources for our students.

So, with an army of support behind them — from Summer Search, Posse, their families, and more — Judy, Christelle, and Saira are looking forward to what their post-secondary experiences will bring.

Chelsea High School's 2019 Posse ScholarsSaira Carreto with her fellow Posse Scholars from Chelsea High School.

I am looking forward to studying something I love, because I’ll be in charge of what kind of career I want in the future,” Christelle shared. “[I want] a major that connects science and medicine.”

“I think college will be a period of growth since it will be in a new state and environment,” Judy reflects. “I am excited to live fully independently. I can’t wait to have opportunities to extend my range of knowledge and really step my foot into computer science.”

Saira says she can’t wait to meet new people and making the most of Centre College’s highly-ranked study abroad program.

“Centre College is in Kentucky, so I know I will have the opportunity to interact and build friendships with people who have different backgrounds compared to my own. Besides the social aspect of college, I know for sure I want to study abroad at least once. I love learning about different cultures, so I will definitely take advantage of the opportunity.”

Summer Search is truly grateful to partner with organizations like the Posse Foundation to support these amazing young people. We wish all of our post-secondary-bound Summer Searchers good luck on the next steps in their journeys!

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