Unlike most students, college loans won’t be too much of a worry for Newton High School (NHS) senior Molly Cady, who recently learned that she received a four-year, full-tuition scholarship as part of the Posse Foundation’s national program that sends teams – or posses — of students to top colleges and universities.
Founded in 1989, Posse identifies public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential who may be overlooked by traditional college selection processes. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams—Posses—of 10 students. These student teams receive professional guidance before and throughout college and provide support to one another.
Cady, the Newton High School class of 2017 salutatorian, will attend Brandeis University, just outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where she plans to major in the health science track. Her goal is to become a behavioral scientist and focus on autism research.
“My older brother was diagnosed with autism at the age of three, so it’s kind of been a part of my life as long as I can remember,” Cady said, adding that Brandeis first appealed to her due to “its focus on research and its academic prestige.”
A trip to the campus sealed the deal for her.
“When I went and actually visited the campus in October it just felt like that was the right choice for me,” she said. “The community on campus and the student interaction on campus were really great.”
In addition to majoring in health science, Cady noted she would definitely make time for her love of the arts, specifically dancing, by minoring in dance and working with programs and the musical theater on campus.
An ALANHS (Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School) student at Newton High School, Cady has taken numerous advanced placement courses, including human geography, microeconomics, macroeconomics, statistics, studio art, literature and composition, language composition, world history, and U.S. history. She has also managed a full schedule of extra-curricular activities during high school, including being a member of the Superintendent’s Student Advisory Council, the Drama Club, Beta Club, and the Covington Regional Ballet. Cady is also a peer mentor, a member of the Relay for Life team, an International Thespian, and has interned with the Arts Association in Newton County.
Cady started out the POSSE scholarship process in a pool of 1600 students and said she was really surprised she had earned the scholarship.
“I was shocked I got it because after my third-round interview I was sure I had bombed,” said Cady. “When you go into the third round there are 25 students who are literally just like you. They do all of the extracurricular activities and they take advanced and AP courses. They do a lot of different things and have the same resume you do.”
She ended up being one of the ten students in Georgia selected for the Brandeis posse.
“Receiving this scholarship basically to me is just validation that all of the hard work and effort that I’ve put into my academics and school has been worth it,” she said. “Honestly, a lot of time you don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. You don’t see why all of it is important, why you have to do such extensive activities. It’s almost a relief, knowing after all of this, it has definitely been worth it.”
“Plus it’s pretty substantial financial aid,” Cady said. “If I was going to go out of state I was going to need a very substantial scholarship or I would have had to stay in state.”
“We are tremendously proud of Molly,” John Ellenberg, principal of NHS, said. “She is an outstanding student who shines both academically and in the arts, so it comes as no surprise that she would have been selected for this honor. During the past four years at Newton High School, Molly has worked hard and focused on her education, and that effort has definitely paid off. Not only is she the class salutatorian, she has also earned this full-tuition, Posse Leadership Scholarship. The sky is the limit for Molly and I’m looking forward to seeing what she accomplishes in the years to come.”