Senior Silcott secures selective Posse Foundation scholarship

January 19, 2023

After a grueling five-month interview process that includes group leadership activities and one-on-one interviews, senior Naamah Silcott received a scholarship from The Posse Foundation. 

“It’s been one of the happiest things that has happened in recent years,” Silcott said. “It’s just really nice to see all the hard work pay off in the end.” 

Only five seniors have received the prestigious Posse scholarship in Daniel Pearl Magnet High School (DPMHS) history and Silcott is the most recent one. Posse identifies leaders and scholars in the community and offers them a scholarship that includes a full ride to any college or university partnered with Posse. Silcott surely fits those criteria, as they are the Prestige Yearbook editor-in-chief and are the president of Pride Club and Black Student Union. They are also the co-president of Art Club and have been the team captain of the Birmingham Community Charter High School varsity girls volleyball team for the past two years. 

“Her dedication to things around the school and what she has done to represent (DPMHS) shows that she can commit herself,” counselor Martina Torres said. “She puts herself in (extracurricular programs) and she lets them be a part of her. She’s a team player and an out-of-the-box thinker. I feel like that’s what Posse looks for.”

Keonabelle Paniagua, who now attends Pepperdine University, was the last DPMHS student to receive the scholarship. She detected Silcott’s natural leadership ability and strongly recommended they apply for the scholarship. 

“I was nervous,” Silcott said. “It was a very daunting thing to think that I could actually do something so out of my comfort zone. But if (Paniagua) thought I was capable, then I knew that I was capable in some way, shape or form.”

During the selection process, Silcott struggled with uneasiness caused by social anxiety. During the interview process, they met new people and experienced the pressure of competing with more than 100 people in a single space. They also combated self-doubt, worrying that they would not meet up to expectations.

“I wanted to drop out of doing it completely,” Silcott said. “But I just kept pushing and pushing because I knew it would be disappointing to (my supporters) but I was also thinking about if I miss out on taking this opportunity. That would probably be super disappointing to me as well.”

Posse prides itself on its Dynamic Assessment Process for finding worthy scholarship candidates. A key component of the process is an emphasis on diversity. The goal is to discover motivated scholars, including those from demographics that certain college admissions criteria may overlook. As a result, Posse is known for providing opportunities to all worthy students regardless of race, social class or any other demographic. 

“When I went to the Posse ceremony (on Jan. 4), it was one of the most diverse crowds I had ever been in,” Silcott said. “It was really nice to see people who looked like me, sounded like me or acted like me. And it was also really nice to see people who didn’t. I’m grateful that they look out for that.”

Besides receiving a full ride to a four-year college, Silcott will also stay alongside their fellow scholarship winners throughout their undergraduate college life. Silcott also looks forward to the training they will receive from The Posse Foundation through its pre-collegiate training program that prepares new Posse members for the college environment.

“I really appreciate that kind of guidance because most people don’t get that kind of mentoring,” Silcott said. “It’s very rare to see a program like this as willing to really invest as much time and effort into you as you invest into the scholarship.”

Silcott has already selected liberal arts school Kalamazoo College in Michigan as their post-graduation destination. The school appealed to them because of its focus on the arts and the option to major in neuroscience, a field that Silcott is considering entering. For now, they have applied to the college as undecided with regard to a major in order to keep their options open.

“(The scholarship is) taking me down a path that I would’ve never expected out of my life,” Silcott said. “So, I’m really ecstatic to see what kind of person I become as a result of this scholarship.”

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