Lynn scholars rewarded with Posse grants


La Vida scholar Carlos Espindola, left, and La Vida Executive Director Dave Zagunis work on loan applications.


LYNN Five Lynn students will be honored tonight in Boston at The Posse Awards Ceremony, along with their posses from their future colleges.

Posse Boston, as part of the foundation, works with six colleges and awards scholarships to 10 incoming students for each of those schools — a total of 60. The schools participating are Pennsylvania’s Bryn Mawr College and Bucknell University; Kentucky’s Centre College; Denison University in Ohio; and Hamilton and Union Colleges, both in New York.

Jessica DeJoie and Tiana Evelyn, both students at Lynn Classical, are part of the posse of 10 students selected for Bryn Mawr. English High student Carlos Espindola will attend Hamilton. The Union posse includes Jennifer Duran of Classical and Corinne Jean-Gilles of KIPP Academy.

Duran, 17, and Espindola, 18, are also members of La Vida Scholars, a program that works closely with Posse and has had 13 past winners of the scholarship, according to La Vida Executive Director Dave Zagunis. He said La Vida is a college preparatory program that works with low-income, high-achieving students in Lynn.

Tonight’s ceremony is at 7 p.m. at the Fairmont Copley Plaza Hotel.

According to the Posse website, the organization “identifies, recruits and trains incredible young leaders from urban public high schools who may be overlooked by traditional college processes, and extends them the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams of 10 and sending them to top colleges and universities across the country.”

Zagunis said students have to be nominated to go to the first interview for Posse, which includes 1,500 eligible students. That number is narrowed down to 600 for the second interview, 120 for the third, and then 60 students are selected for what are usually full-tuition scholarships.

“The posse process is focused on getting urban students into predominantly white suburban colleges,” Zagunis said.

Duran said she saw an underlying theme in the interview process of trying to find out what kind of a leader the students were. She said interviewers were trying to find out what kind of person finalists were and what they could contribute to their group, or posse.

Duran said she received a full scholarship through Posse for Union, which totals close to $200,000 over four years. She said she was screaming and crying when she found out she had been selected.

“It also made me remember a lot of rejections I have gotten in the past,” Duran said.

Duran said she had received numerous rejection letters from colleges and that was running through her mind when she was selected for the Posse scholarship.

Espindola said he had just left his basketball game when he received the call. He remembers being nervous throughout the game because he was expecting it. He got into his car at 8:40 p.m. that night thinking he had not received the scholarship until he received a call from a Boston number on his cell phone. Once he found out, he starting screaming and rushed home to tell his mother, who was just waking up from a nap.

“She started crying,” Espindola said. “Most of the things I do are for my mom so I started crying too.”

Duran plans to major in economics and hopes to become an actuary or business administrator. Espindola said he will major in biology and take pre-med courses, as his dream job is to become a doctor.

Both Duran and Espindola said they look forward to being a part of a posse at college. Espindola said he was scared to go away for college, but having support from those nine other people in his group helps lessen those fears.


Gayla Cawley can be reached at

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