Guest Post by Project GRAD Scholar William Samayoa

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A year ago, I would never have imagined I’d be a Posse Finalist. But here I am, on the verge of making a life-changing decision about college.

I first heard about the Posse Scholarship last year from other Project GRAD Scholar friends who were seniors. I was hanging out with them in the Project GRAD office while they were filling out the application. Intrigued, I asked what the requirements were and learned I first had to be nominated and participate in interviews. My first thought was it sounded intimidating. What I didn’t know is that my AP English teacher, Mr. Robert Martin, was in the process of nominating me.

Near the end of my Junior year, I was summoned by Project GRAD to a meeting at lunch with 15 other Scholars where we all learned we had been nominated for Posse. I was surprised and excited. Project GRAD gave us an overview of the process and helped us get started with the next steps.

Pretty quickly, I had to write a personal statement about why I deserved to be nominated. I scrambled home and wrote my heart out. Soon after I turned it in, people at school like my Project GRAD Advisor and teachers all congratulated me, and that’s when it finally sunk in just how important this was.

Months passed and eventually the first interview occurred. It was nerve wracking! Nearly 100 nominees from Los Angeles all in one room, all of us trying to shine.

After I got home I was anxious about how I answered the questions. So when I received the call saying I was a Semi-Finalist, I jumped for joy. But the news came with a shocker. Posse asked about how comfortable I felt with “early decision” which means going to a school with a full scholarship that they match for you. Yet, for all of high school, I had been set on going to UC Santa Barbara because of their Communications program.

And, there was still another hurdle – Finalist. But, if I did become a Posse Scholar, it meant I was going to have to choose between what had been what I thought was my dream school and a once in a lifetime opportunity for a full scholarship to a great school that is smaller and farther away from home.

For a few weeks I felt numb with indecision. And then one day in late-September, while I was at Starbucks, I received a call that changed my life. I was told I was a Finalist. I practically choked on my drink. I couldn't believe I made it! When I told my parents, they cried and hugged me saying, "William, you really are making us proud. We see that you can do what ever you want with your life."

As I’ve told my teachers and Project GRAD what’s happened, everyone has been so supportive and giving me amazing speeches of their pride in me. Which helps since the past weeks have been exhausting.

Every night, I am up past midnight and every morning, up before six. On top of staying on track with all my AP courses, I am completing the common application, getting several letters of recommendation from teachers, revising my personal statement. And, I signed the contract legally binding me to Early Decision for Posse.

The roster of the schools I’m applying to includes Posse and non-Posse schools -- Hobart and William Smith, Northwestern University, UC Berkeley, UW Madison, and of course, UC Santa Barbara.

Last week, all the Posse Finalists for Hobart and William Smith, along with Middlebury and Kalamazoo, had a mandatory meeting where the Posse staff discussed the next steps. And as I speak to more Hobart and William Smith Finalists and hear their enthusiasm, it’s infectious. It is such an amazing school.

Still when I get excited, I have to remember I am only a Posse Finalist and have not been admitted yet. But I know in the next few months, I’ll have to make the biggest decision of my life. 

To be continued…

(We’ll check in again with William after the new year to see what happens next.)

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