By Shira Kipnees ’15, Staff Writer
The Posse Foundation announced it is renewing its Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) Posse Program at the Summit on Higher Education at the White House Thursday, Jan. 16. Over the course of the next five years, the Foundation will renew its STEM program with 10 of America’s best colleges and universities, including F&M. The College has hosted a STEM Posse since 2011, making it the first liberal arts college to do so.
Each participating school offers scholarships to 10 students and each school is awarded $100,000 annually to help with the cost of giving 10 full-tuition, four-year scholarships to the Posse students. These students come from a variety of backgrounds and show an aptitude for the STEM fields.
The College already has two STEM Posse groups on campus. The College picked students for its third STEM Posse from Miami in December. However, according to Daniel Lugo, vice president for admission and financial aid, Posse scholars do not necessarily have to end up majoring in STEM fields once they arrive at the College.
“The country is not generating enough future STEM leaders, so it is part of F&M’s goal to help generate more future leaders in this program,” Lugo said. “We do not want students who will only bury themselves in STEM fields, but we want them to love the STEM fields and [give] them the opportunity for them to explore [a] full liberal arts education. F&M graduates leaders in STEM fields and has been graduating leaders in the STEM fields for a while now.” F&M first decided to recruit a STEM Posse in Miami to attract more future STEM leaders and to try to make the College more geographically diverse.
“Posse expanded to Miami, and we wanted to expand our reach to places out of our usual demographic, such as the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” Lugo said. “Right now, Miami and Florida are growing more than New York is. For us, it would make us more geographically diverse and also give us the opportunity for launching more leaders in STEM and Posse.”
Lugo believes that the STEM Posse Program has been successful, helping to attract and recruit talented students from STEM backgrounds that may not have been considering F&M. Additionally, the program has helped promote the College’s reputation in South Florida. He expects the success of the program to continue, especially in light of F&M’s outreach efforts in Southern Florida.
“The Posse Program received 15,000 nominations this year, 1,200 of which came from Miami,” Lugo said, describing the application and selection process for the program. “Posse interviews students and puts them through many rounds of interviews. It is then whittled down to about twenty applicants for us. We fly down and then spend a day with them and put them through a lot of processes and interviews. We finally pick ten and ask them if they want to come to our school.”
Lugo also discussed the benefits of the STEM Posse Program, such as making the student body more geographically diverse and attracting students that, perhaps, would not otherwise have applied to F&M or to a college or university in general. However, he pointed out that these are not the only merits of the program, as Posse scholars must demonstrate strength in the STEM areas, strong academic achievements, as well as having a good personality.
“The STEM Posse from Miami has been a great success and has been very successful and very helpful for us,” he said. “We look forward to having more STEM Posse students from Miami in the future.”
Junior Shira Kipnees is a staff writer. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.