Posse scholars gather in Mohler Lab for their weekly meetings. Posse scholars will graduate in Spring 2024. (Courtesy of Greg Tonkay)

Lehigh welcomes new cohort of Posse Scholars


Lehigh recently welcomed the newest cohort of Posse Scholars, who will join campus to pursue an array of careers starting in fall 2024.

The Posse Foundation has offices in urban locations across the country and uses a “Dynamic Assessment Process” to find potential candidates “missed by the traditional admissions criteria.” 

Lehigh announced its partnership with The Posse Foundation in the Bay Area of California in 2017, providing full scholarships to expand educational opportunities for inner-city high school students. 

As of 2022, Lehigh has had 40 Posse scholars, bringing the total of awarded scholarships to 60. These scholarships total nearly half a million dollars of investment in leadership and diversity, based on Lehigh’s estimated total cost of $82,200 before aid.

After students are nominated for the program, either by others or themselves, they go through a three-interview selection process to decide if they will join the final cohort of 10. 

The first two rounds are conducted by Posse staff and the third is conducted by a university administrator who will then become the mentor of the cohort accepted.

Jennifer Jensen, a political science professor, is the Posse liaison at Lehigh. She works in budgeting, the Posse scholar selection process and organizes the annual Posse Plus Retreat. 

“Lehigh has worked to more fully represent students of all different backgrounds and walks of life on campus, and this was a good way to do it,” Jensen said. “Posse was looking for schools to partner in the Bay Area, and at the time, we had just recently opened our Bay Area office.”

Jensen said the 2018 partnership is not the first time Lehigh worked with the Posse Foundation. 

Lehigh had two Posse cohorts from New York City in the 90s, but Jensen said the selection process was different then, as the Posse partnership also included the National Action Committee for Minorities in Engineering. 

“One thing I think that is really unusual about Posse is that Posse really is about producing leaders,” Jensen said. “There is no single checkbox that you have to be. It really looks for people who have resilience and tremendous leadership potential.”

Mia Delaney, ‘27, is a member of the program’s 2023 cohort, alongside nine other students from San Francisco.

“It was always my dream to come to the East Coast,” Delaney said. “I’m so grateful for the opportunity to experience new things. I don’t want to be anywhere else.” 

Upon graduating from Lehigh, she plans on pursuing a doctoral degree in biochemistry.

Students from past cohorts, such as Ryan Javier, ‘26, also described having a positive experience with the program.

“All I wanted to do senior year was get the hell out of California,” Javier said. “I wanted to explore the world.”

He is now on the executive board of the Asian Cultural Society, a student guide for the Lehigh University Student Scholar’s Institute and will be an intern through the Iacocca Institute this summer.

He said the Posse program has supported him and his academic dreams. 

Before students arrive at their schools, they go through pre-collegiate training, where they complete weekly workshops including team building, trust exercises and leadership skills. 

However, leaving home and living on the other side of the country can be difficult for some students.

Sofie Espinzoe, ‘24, said it can be hard to deal with this loneliness. 

“It’s kind of a melancholy feeling,” Espinoza said. 

Despite missing home, she has found ways to get involved on campus.

Espinoza is the academic chair of Lambda Theta Alpha, was a Gryphon, conducted research projects and was a Global Social Impact Fellow. 

She has been admitted into Johns Hopkins University to pursue a Master of Science in public health with a focus on health education and communication. She is also in the process of applying for a Fulbright scholarship.

As Espinoza prepares for her next chapter, she said she has been reflecting on the role Posse played in shaping her social life at Lehigh.

“Posse is a really wonderful opportunity to strengthen connections with people you never thought you’d meet,” Espinoza said. 

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1 Comment

  1. Roger Sterling on

    Interesting article and worthy of exploration. I was wondering, does LU track these students? How is their academic performance when compared to the general student body? What additional resources are afforded these students to insure success? How do they fare in securing that first job? Does LU track their progress after graduation? How are they doing (while at LU and after) when compared to the students who were admitted using traditional methods? Seems to me that by answering such questions as the above should determine the effectiveness of the effort. Likewise, they can be used to help the project evolve. Cheers, RS

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