The Posse Foundation has always had its roots in the idea of place. As a service to scholars Posse was founded on the idea that a group of students could support each other first based upon a common understanding of where they came from and, as time progressed, the bonds that they built on top of that starting place. For colleges bringing a Posse to campus was a way to increase the number of students on their campus from their partner city amongst other institutional goals. When Posse first came to Middlebury thirteen years ago New York City had yet to become one of the most popular locations for Middlebury students to come from, yet now a student would be hard pressed to make it through first year orientation let alone four years without meeting a New Yorker. Through strategic moves like partnering with Posse combined with the general expansion of Middlebury’s acclaim New York and many other places have come into the Middlebury fold, but Middlebury hasn’t managed to reach everywhere just yet.
Historically the Midwest has remained one of the harder areas to attract students from, but that’s changing. As the admissions team rolled back in from travel last week, few stories from the road were received with as much excitement as the news that Chicago is buzzing with the newfound discovery of Middlebury. Ten students will end up on campus next fall as the first Middlebury Posse from Chicago, but posse is much bigger than any one student or ten scholars. Along the way hundreds more will learn of Middlebury as counselors recommend them to apply for a spot at any of Posse Chicago’s seven partner schools. Beyond that counselors and students are discovering Middlebury through word of mouth as this year’s college process for many seniors includes mention of the Posse-Middlebury connection along the way. The word is out about Middlebury in Chicago and hopefully next year we will see a new presence of Midwestern faces including and beyond the first cohort of Chicago posse students full of new stories of how they got to Middlebury and where they’re from.
At its best the addition of a posse from Chicago will be another powerful way to stretch, push, and complicate our notions of diversity in as many ways as possible further helping us to all grow in this community of intentional living and learning. I can only hope that the current New York scholars on campus will greet Posse Chicago with a spirit of warm fuzzy leadership that will help Middlebury and our new scholars to reach their full potential together.
Megan Nesbeth (NYMP9)