Comus Hardman is an approachable and friendly person. He met his girlfriend while attending a PCC ballroom dance class. He studied biology with fervor. He has served in the U.S. Navy. His sights are set high with wanting to become a geneticist, but that bright future doesn’t seem like such a far off dream.
Hardman, a 25-year-old Navy veteran, is one of the few individuals to be awarded the Veteran’s Posse Scholarship. The scholarship offers a full ride to a top-level university to high school and college students and now veterans as well.
The scholarship is only in its second year of existence and the Posse Foundation searches out students who have the potential to be strong leaders and show great promise all around. They originally focused their efforts on high school students, but in their second year, they have included veterans in the scholarship.
“So, it’s not really a minority program, to my understanding. It’s really looking for that extraordinary student who maybe is not making the best grades but really is very smart and really is a good leader and has potential,” said Patricia D’Orange Martin. “They’re looking for leadership, they’re looking for potential, they’re looking for people who are going to be those shakers and movers in the next generation. It’s just, they’re the diamond in the rock, you know? They kind of have to chip away at some of the stuff to get that diamond to come up.”
Comus Hardman never intended to go career in the Navy. When he enlisted, he already had his priorities set and knew exactly what he wanted out of the experience and what he hoped to give in return.
“What you’ll (often) find, we still have a lot of patriots out there and that’s one reason they join. The first one is to serve the country, you know, they just want to give back.” Hardman said, “And that was among the reasons, but for me, number one was my education. And second was being able to travel the world and experience new things and then to serve my country, all that too. But primary, number one, get my education done.”
He grew up with an interest in science. Hardman participated in a lot of the school science fairs in his childhood and he also fondly remembers shooting off rockets in his backyard.
His father was a real estate agent and an entrepreneur and had no dealings in the scientific field at all. Regardless, he was always encouraging Hardman to question the world around him and be inquisitive. He credits a lot of his love for science to his father.
“My dad was a huge inspiration towards the direction I’m going, just because he would just keep me asking questions and that’s very important.” Hardman said. “He’s of the same mind as I am, and so he’s really important, just what he instilled in me.”
Because of the scholarship, Hardman will be able to attend Vassar University in Poughkeepsie, New York—an institution that would normally cost upwards of $65,000 to attend. Hardman is currently studying biology and hopes to eventually get into genetics, which is what he hopes to attain his Ph.D in. He isn’t yet sure beyond college what his plans will be but he knows what he wants to study and how far he wants to go. He noted with a laugh that he knows he has a lot more school ahead of him.
The Posse Foundation and the scholarship process were humbling and an overall great experience for Hardman. He noted how fortunate he felt to be selected with so much competition facing him.
The applicants go through a sort of vetting process in which they undergo three interviews, are required to write multiple essays and most importantly, what sets this scholarship apart from others, form a close knit relationship with the nine other members who are selected to be a part of their posse.
Every posse of 10 students forms a kind of support group to help each other with the whole process and to have friends to lean on and not feel left out in a new setting.
“And so the concept, why it’s called posse, is that they take 10 students and they form a posse at each school,” Martin said. “So you’ll have this posse of students, a group of 10, and they are connected the entire time that they’re at the school. So they become their own social support system.”
In addition to awarding the students a scholarship of about $240,000, the students are also offered the opportunity to intern with top 500 corporations and companies around the world.
Hardman appreciates what this scholarship does for everyone in general but even more so for veterans who may not be sure if they’re too old to go back to school or if they feel like they don’t have the resources to do so.
“A lot of veterans they just have real world, life experiences outside of the academia and all that, and I think this is going to enrich the campus,” Hardman said. “It has already enriched campuses across the nation across the country. I think this is a really great thing. It’s a beautiful thing.”