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Brandon is a Posse Foundation scholar from Atlanta, Georgia. He came to Bard with nine other students in his Posse group, all of whom are strong leaders from urban public schools who receive full-tuition scholarships from Bard. Brandon is a sociology major dedicated to community education initiatives that help other students prepare for college.Bard and my high school experience are practically mirror opposites. My school in Atlanta was one of the lowest performing in the area, and Bard’s academics are very rigorous. I am so thankful for first-year programs like Language and Thinking (L&T). I had never written an extensive paper before that, and it was a transformative experience. I came to the Learning Commons and spent hours there with tutors. I finished my first 10-page paper in L&T. Looking back now as a senior, I’ve written 30-page papers without too much hassle. That says that I’ve come a long way.
As a Bard TLS scholar, I’m involved in a project in Hudson, New York, called the Building Up Hudson Scholarship Program. Originally, it was an opportunity for students in the city to receive peer-to-peer mentoring and tutoring. When I took over leadership of the program, I set out to develop it to make more of an impact in the Hudson community and here at Bard. I brought on some other Posse members and we now direct the program as a team. We put most of our energy into working with high school seniors in Hudson. In addition to mentoring and tutoring, we take them on field trips to Bard and to museums. Interest increased and people started giving money to the program, so we created a scholarship fund and awarded our first college scholarship last year.
When I came to Bard I realized I had to do a lot of work on myself. I was challenged to step up to the plate and become a better student and a better person. I’ve learned to work with lots of different people from different backgrounds. When I leave Bard, I’ll be in a place I’ve never been before, with people I’ve never met before. Being here has taught me how to go to people and tell them something about myself in exchange for learning something about them, so we can become better people and be able to impact the world in our own different ways.