Cornell College’s first student Posse kicks off the year

MOUNT VERNON, Iowa – Cornell College is welcoming its first official Posse of eight students as the school year gets underway.

What’s a Posse?

A Posse is a group of students identified by the Posse Foundation–a national organization started in 1989 that recruits and trains student leaders who are often missed by the traditional college selection process. 

It’s a program that increases diversity on college campuses. 

“We are thrilled to welcome our first Posse of students who come from North Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia,” said Cornell’s Posse Mentor Brandi Shanata. “Through this program, we are getting geographic diversity in addition to diversity in experiences, diversity in backgrounds, diversity in thought, and diversity in race and gender.”

Cornell announced its new partnership with The Posse Foundation last December. As part of that agreement, Cornell provided full-tuition merit scholarships to the student leaders who arrived on campus in August. 

“I feel more than blessed to be part of Posse,” said Shirley Romero Carreon, who is one of Cornell’s first Posse members. “One of the quotes that led to the development of Posse was ‘I never would’ve dropped out of college if I’d had my posse with me.’ I really think back to this quote every time I’m around my group because it feels so nice to have such a great friendship and support system coming into Cornell.”

While the group of eight students is new to campus, they’re been preparing for this moment for a while. Prior to officially getting selected for the program, they went through three different intensive interviews. And for the last six months, they’ve been taking part in pre-collegiate training.

Carreon says the training helped prepare them for college and shape the group into better leaders and a better team.

“I’m looking forward to the classes I will take and getting started on classes for my major,” Carreon said. “I have a huge interest in pharmaceutical chemistry! As for Cornell, it’s a nice campus and I think the block program is cool but I am still adjusting to everything since everything feels so foreign to me. It’s a big change from my hometown but as long as I have my Posse mates I think we will be fine.”

The Posse meets frequently with Shanata, their campus mentor, who says the magic of this program lies in the strength of the relationships these students are forming.

“Posse is a perfect fit for Cornell,” Shanata said. “Cornell is all about the relationships and the connections we make, and the Posse program is really formalizing those relationships that many of our students already make with our community, with our faculty, and with our staff.”

The students will also remain in contact with the Posse Foundation as a representative visits campus a minimum of four times a year to meet with them. During one of these visits, Cornell’s Posse will host a Posse Plus Retreat that will focus on a social justice issue, which will be tackled by every Posse around the country. According to Posse, the key to a promising future for our nation rests on the ability of strong leaders from diverse backgrounds to develop consensus solutions to complex social problems.

“These students are interested in creating a better society. They are passionate about leaving their home better than it was when they arrived,” Shanata said.

About Cornell College:

Cornell College is a liberal arts college of approximately 1,000 students in Mount Vernon, Iowa. Cornellians have been living, learning, and teaching on the block plan, One Course At A Time, since 1978. Each 18-day course can take students and professors off-campus and even out of the country due to the block’s flexibility, and students fully immerse themselves in their topic of study, taking field trips, diving into research, creating an art exhibit, or exploring issues in the local community. With students from 47 states and 12 foreign countries, as well as renowned faculty, speakers, and entertainers, Cornell offers the world from its campus.