Adam Fallah, Irma Soriano-Diaz and Crystal Sermon no longer have to worry about paying for their college educations.
The three Newton High School seniors recently learned they each 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.
Posse, founded in 1989, 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.
“I am thrilled for our students,” Newton High School Principal John Ellenberg said. “Being selected for the POSSE Leadership Scholarship means others now have the opportunity to see the talent they possess. It also means these young adults receive the ongoing guidance needed to help them pursue their academic dreams and reach the goals they set. Newton High School deeply appreciates the POSSE Foundation for making the future brighter for our youth.”
With his Posse scholarship, Adam Fallah will attend Bard College in Red Hook, New York, where he plans on majoring in psychology with a minor in either biology or chemistry. His career goal is to become a psychiatrist and open his own practice.
Fallah has been enrolled in ALANHS (Academy of Liberal Arts at Newton High School) and in addition to focusing on his academic studies, he has also made time for extra-curricular activities at school. He is the president of National Honor Society, is a member of the school’s Interact Club, plays soccer, serves as an officer on the Relay for Life team, participated on the Academic Team, and is also a school RAMbassador. Outside of school, Fallah works as an intern at Piedmont Newton Hospital.
According to Fallah, his time at Newton High School, especially because of the ALANHS program and his teachers, has more than prepared him to make the jump to the collegiate level.
“It’s been a heavy workload, but because of that, I feel like I’ve learned to better assess my time management,” Fallah said. “I’ve learned to handle multiple aspects and can dive deeper into certain concepts better.”
Receiving the Posse Scholarship was a welcome relief for Fallah on two fronts — the stress of applying to colleges and getting selected and also the added pressure of paying for college.
“I had a plan B, C, D, E, F, and G just in case I didn’t get this scholarship, but those plans are out the window now,” he explained. “I don’t have to worry about getting into college because I got it. All I have to focus on now is keeping up my grades and graduating. College is already taken care of — I got in and it’s paid for, which takes a huge burden off my mom and dad.”
Irma Soriano-Diaz will also head north after high school graduation, but not quite as far. She received her full-tuition scholarship for studies at Georgia Washington University, in Washington, D.C. Her plan is to double major in athletic training and medicine and eventually pursue a career as a pediatrician.
A member of the ALANHS program, she too has also maintained a very active schedule in high school while juggling her academic responsibilities. She is currently the president of RAMbassadors, was a member of both the Interact club and SECHME (a science/math club), served as captain of tennis team last year, and was also an athletic trainer for football and wrestling. She has also participated in the National Honor Society and Relay for Life.
She too credited her teachers at Newton High School for preparing her for life as a college student.
“I’ve learned life skills and the workload has definitely prepared me for college because it taught me time management,” she said.
Soriano-Diaz added that she was very thankful for the Posse Scholarship program.
“My mom wouldn’t have been able to pay for school had I not gotten this scholarship,” she said. “There’s no financial way we could afford that. It’s definitely a blessing to have this scholarship.”
Crystal Sermon earned her full-tuition scholarship from the College of Wooster, in Wooster, Ohio and is looking forward to the opportunity to pursue her college degree. With an interest in medicine, her plan is to major in either pre-med or biology; she hasn’t determined a minor field of study as yet. She added that she’s still debating her career options — but she knows she wants to be either a medical examiner or a pediatrician.
While enrolled in the ALANHS program, Sermon has maintained good grades and also made the most of the extracurricular opportunities available at Newton High School. She has been a member of both the school’s marching band and symphonic band, served as a RAMbassador, was a member of the Interact Club for two years, played tennis, participated in the Reading Bowl, was a member of the National Honor Society and also Relay for Life. She keeps just as busy outside of school, with ballet dancing and also interning at Piedmont Newton Hospital.
Just like her POSSE counterparts, she credited Newton High School with preparing her for college.
“It’s a tough workload and managing band and tennis and all the other activities is hard, but it really prepares you,” she said.
In fact, all three students wholeheartedly recommended that incoming students consider enrolling in the ALANHS program, not just because of the academics but also the quality of teachers. Over and over they mentioned names of teachers who in their eyes served as mentors and role-models during their time at Newton High. They also noted that students in the ALANHS program become like a family and serve as a support system for each other.
“Congratulations to Crystal, Irma, and Adam,” said Newton County School Superintendent Samantha Fuhrey. “I am very proud of their accomplishments, and I wish them well in all of their future endeavors. The POSSE scholarship opens doors for students, and I look forward to hearing about their educational journeys.”