ALEXANDRIA, VA-Two T.C. Williams High School seniors have been awarded the Posse Scholarship, and when they enter college this fall, all expenses will be paid.
Maria Stakem and Lenora Rodriguez celebrated the achievement last week during a virtual ceremony. Stakem will attend the University of Wisconsin, where she will study social work. Rodriguez will Lafeyette College in Pennsylvania. She will major in biomedical sciences and is planning for a career in aerospace engineer.
Stakem admitted that she was overwhelmed by the application process. But an inspirational call from Oceanography teacher, Trisha Christopher, helped her focus.
“I didn’t see myself as having leadership promise and it wasn’t until I learned that leadership comes in many forms, that’s when I started to really take my chances seriously,” she said. “As I passed through each selection stage I grew more confident.”
The Posse Scholarship, which provided the two students with $250,000 each, is presented to students across the country who possess strong leadership skills. Winners often form tight-knit groups while in college, offering support for those four years and beyond.
After learning they’d won last month over a Zoom call, Stakem and Rodriguez shared the exciting news with their families.
Rodriguez recalled that as a child, she watched her mother cry over bills. Having money has always been regarded as a privilege in her home.
“Having everything paid for college is indescribable. It’s a great relief to my parents to have had this all paid off,” she said.
“I am so proud of Leonora and Maria for earning this life-changing recognition,” said T.C. principal Peter Balas. “They both have put in years of hard work and dedication to all areas of student life. I know they will take full advantage of this opportunity and go on to do great things.”