When Marlie was at BGA and thinking about post-graduation, she visited Union College in Schenectady, but applied only to Boston University, in part because she likes Boston and wanted to stay close to her family. Then a teacher suggested she apply to the POSSE Foundation, which provides full tuition scholarships for students who go through a rigorous application and interview process and are ultimately chosen for their leadership potential. The POSSE mission is an important one, sustaining a program that “believes that the leaders of the 21st century should reflect the country’s rich demographic mix. 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. Posse’s primary aim is to train these leaders of tomorrow.” Marlie was awarded a scholarship, but taking it meant that she would need to attend a POSSE partner college. One of the pieces that makes POSSE so successful is that the organization creates a true cohort of scholars on each of their affiliated campuses, and provides intense supports for students even before they arrive on campus as freshmen. Scholars meet regularly, support each other, and become a kind of extended family. Union College happened to be one of the POSSE campuses, and Marlie, who demonstrated over and over again during our conversation that she has both strong opinions and an open mind, decided to give Union a try. She is glad she did.
Any second thoughts about moving three hours from home are fleeting, and usually occur at 3 a.m. in the library when studying for a test. Marlie is almost through her sophomore year, and still not sure which of the four engineering-related pathways she might pursue as a career. Electrical Engineering is at the core of Biomedical, Computer, and Mechanical Engineering, and Marlie is not putting any pressure on herself to make a decision quite yet. What little spare time she has is spent singing in the college gospel choir and as president of the African dance club. “There is only a small population of students of color there, and we try to engage with each other regularly and be reminded that we are not alone. Everyone at the college is really nice and I tend to get along with everyone.”
When asked about BGA, Marlie says that taking AP courses was one of the best decisions she ever made and that doing so really helped with the transition to college. “Writing is apparently a big thing in college, and while most professors don’t expect perfection from freshmen, it was really nice to hear from one of my professors that she really appreciated the way I communicated my thoughts in writing.” Marlie highly recommends AP courses in Math and English for anyone considering college. “Taking those classes kind of mirrors the workload you will get in college and helps you organize and be prepared for what’s coming.” Finally, when asked about any words of wisdom for current BGA students, Marlie jumps right in. “Juniors especially—don’t be afraid to take advantage of opportunities that are offered to you. I was almost forced to apply to POSSE and its one of the best things I’ve ever done. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Sometimes you don’t see the benefit in the moment but you find out it was the best thing you could do."