Posse Scholarship Profile: Elaine Du

The Posse Scholarship is a four-year tuition scholarship that gives students the opportunity to go to their choice of four different colleges. The four participating colleges for Malden High students are Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Centre College and Union College. Students rank the colleges one to four and Posse will try to match the students based on that. There are three rounds of interviews that a student has to go through in order to prove that they are a good fit for the Posse Scholarship. Students have to get nominated for the Posse Scholarship either by an alumni or a high school counselor. Elaine Du, a senior at Malden High, was nominated by another organization called Summer Search.

As mentioned, to receive the scholarship, students have to go through three rounds of interviews. Due to COVID this year, all of the interviews were conducted over Zoom. The general assessment round had about 100 people on the Zoom call and the students are separated into breakout rooms. In Du’s opinion, “[it is] kind of like a test run.” 

In this first round, students are tested on how well they work with other people. They are asked general questions like what type of leader they are and how they would react in a certain type of situation. To Du, the first round is “like an ice breaker.” She said that the “second and third-round interviews are definitely a bit more intense and they get a lot more complex.” 

In the second round, the student is on a Zoom call with staff members. It was “very scary” for Du. The student talks a lot about their goals, how they lead, and who they are as a person. The third round is “even more nerve-wracking because [she] made it to the third round” said Du. There are about twenty people in the third round. Posse needs to know that the students are able to work in a group. Half of those people are selected.

Photo submitted by Elaine Du.

Du is still undecided on what she wants to major in. She knows she wants to do something in liberal arts and humanities. All of the Posse schools are liberal arts colleges except for Bryn Mawr College. For Du “it was an important decision for [her] to make sure that [she] could get Posse just because [she] knew that the liberal arts schools that they presented to [them] were really good.” The reason why Du chose liberal arts, besides the fact that she is passionate about humanities, is because “it’s super flexible to get a career in.” 

Du said “majoring in liberal arts and humanities-type majors would allow [her] to basically know a little bit about every single thing so it 's like [she] can be a good fit for any job.” It is really important for Du to keep her options open in case she wants to do something different later on.

Du was really excited to have gotten the scholarship. She thinks that the way students are told that they got the scholarship is a “little weird” and “really nerve-wracking.” The experience was “kind of surreal” because there were twenty senior staff members and professors at that college when they told her  that she was selected. “So it is kind of unreal but it is also really really exciting,” Du said.

Academics do matter. Posse is a merit-based scholarship. It is based on the student’s own accomplishments and achievements. But they also want to know who the student is personally because they need to make sure that the students get along with other people and that they fit together “like puzzle pieces in order for it to work.”

Du thinks that students should try to get the scholarship even if they think that they don’t have that much academic merit because Posse values different backgrounds and different opinions.  She said that “[it is] a fair shot for anyone and [she] think[s] that everyone should try it out because there’s no harm in trying.”

Du said to other students aiming for the scholarship to just “be genuine and be yourself because they [are] not looking at your academics.” They look at how students are as people and how they treat others. They also look at how students lead with other people “so really, you just have to [show up] to the interview and the rest goes on from there.”

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