Over the past three years, the Posse Foundation has awarded full, four-year scholarships to 15 Fort Bragg Soldiers. But, these scholarships aren’t just for any college or university. These Soldiers received full rides to attend Vassar College, Wesleyan University or Dartmouth College, said Bill McMillian, Transition Services manager, Soldiers for Life: Transition Assistance Program.

According to its website, the Posse Foundation “is one of the most comprehensive and renowned college access and youth leadership development programs in the United States.”

The organization started the Veterans Posse Program in 2012 to help increase the attrition and graduation rates of veterans at prestigious colleges and universities.

It has awarded Fort Bragg Soldiers scholarships every year since the Veterans Posse Program began. McMillian said he believes Fort Bragg Soldiers have a special quality that gives them a leg up over other applicants.

“I think their leadership ability is what impresses the persons who are doing the interviewing,” according to McMillian. “That’s what stands out.”

The application process begins with the foundation holding one-on-one and group interviews at Fort Bragg. After the first two rounds of interviews, the foundation selects 60 semi-finalists from across the country and invites them for final interviews in New York City during the third week of December, said McMillian.

At that time, applicants are placed into groups of 20 and assigned to Vassar, Wesleyan or Dartmouth. This is the school they will attend if chosen for the scholarship. After more group interviews, the group is cut in half and 10 students per school (30 total) are selected as finalists and awarded full scholarships.

However, the Veterans Posse Foundation does more than just give these service members money to attend college, according to McMillian.

“These individuals are helped all along the way,” he said. “There are coaches, there are tutors helping them along the way. Most of these kids are doing extremely well — we are talking three and four point averages.”

The 10 students become a “posse,” and assist each other during their four-year college journey. McMillian said the posse is akin to a squad in the military.

“They work together; they support each other, emotionally encouraging one another, so they all graduate.”

As part of the program, the students also work as summer interns as major corporations in the New York City area, like Google and Saks Fifth Avenue.

The Veterans Posse Foundation will conduct interviews for the program during the SFL-TAP Transition Summit in April, and McMillian is available at 396-2248 to answer questions about the program. He stressed the importance of standing out during the interview process.

“This is the kind of thing that produces leaders,” McMillian said. “Leaders are the ones who are not sitting forward and waiting for something to happen. They step forward and make it happen.”

For more information about the Veterans Posse Program, visit www.possefoundation.org/veterans-posse-program.