Six students selected to attend UNCSA as inaugural Arts Posse Scholars

The University of North Carolina School of the Arts (UNCSA) and The Posse Foundation have selected six high school seniors to attend UNCSA as inaugural Arts Posse Scholars, following a rigorous search, interview and audition process. The Arts Posse Scholars were announced at a virtual ceremony on Monday, Jan. 24, attended by Posse Arts collaborator Lin-Manuel Miranda (“Hamilton,” “In the Heights”) and his father, political strategist Luis Miranda, with prerecorded remarks from U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. This is the first group of Arts Posse Scholars for UNCSA following the initiation of the partnership in summer 2021; the group will matriculate in August 2022.

The 2022 Arts Posse Scholars are: Devin Gibbs and Desirae Powell (Charlotte) in the School of Drama; Valeria Angulo Circa, Tanaja Payne (Denver, Colorado) and Bria Wright (Philadelphia) in the School of Filmmaking; and Ella McGovern (Dallas) in the School of Music.

Valeria Angulo Circa will study filmmaking at UNCSA.Devin Gibbs will study drama at UNCSA.Ella McGovern will study music at UNCSA.Tanaja Payne will study filmmaking at UNCSA.Desirae Powell will study drama at UNCSA.Bria Wright will study filmmaking at UNCSA.

In his remarks at the ceremony on Monday evening, Lin-Manuel Miranda told accepted students, “This really is an extraordinary moment. We are believers in the Posse process. Your time in school is a time for you to find your voice, find what you are passionate about. You’re going in with a squad and with a group of like-minded artists and you’re going to be able to lean on each other for support. You’re going to have an instant set of potential collaborators. Take advantage of your time and sink your teeth into the school. Get to know your Posse cohorts. And we are excited to be a step in your journey and to be able to say, 'We knew you when.’”

Lin-Manuel Miranda

Posse Arts collaborator Lin-Manuel Miranda (right) and his father, political strategist Luis Miranda, joined the virtual event to share remarks with the new Arts Posse Scholars.

Secretary Cardona said, “The arts help build a sense of community, empathy and belonging. Music and the visual arts taught me that my background and heritage are my superpowers. The arts are windows into different perspectives and different cultures. The more we can open those windows the more we can unite and grow together. Let your talents uplift the world.”

UNCSA’s partnership with Posse Arts is an expansion of the nationwide Posse Scholars program that recruits, trains and supports talented students who might be missed through traditional avenues. Many Posse Scholars are often the first in their families to attend college or come from historically underrepresented communities. Arts Posse Scholars receive a full-tuition scholarship to attend UNCSA funded by the university and a grant from The Posse Foundation. The partnership underscores UNCSA’s commitment to recruit a diverse range of talent and to support Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Belonging (EDIB) at the university.

“We are thrilled to announce our inaugural Posse Arts cohort of incredibly talented young artists,” said UNCSA Chancellor Brian Cole, who also spoke at the virtual event. “These students will join a thriving artistic community where they can immerse themselves in their art and find the mentorship and support needed to become their best selves. Indeed, this is a historical moment, one that marks the first of many Posse Arts cohorts to come.” 

These students will join a thriving artistic community where they can immerse themselves in their art and find the mentorship and support needed to become their best selves. Indeed, this is a historical moment, one that marks the first of many Posse Arts cohorts to come.

Chancellor Brian Cole

Through the partnership that was established with support of the Miranda Family Fund, Posse Arts used a signature assessment process and the rigorous conservatory admissions criteria already in place at UNCSA to recruit undergraduate prospects across Charlotte; Cleveland; Dallas; Denver; Memphis, Tennessee; Newark, New Jersey; Philadelphia; and Phoenix. Top recruits, as determined by UNCSA deans and Admissions staff, entered the UNCSA admissions cycle, which includes interviews with faculty and deans and auditions or portfolio presentations. In addition to receiving full scholarships, Arts Posse Scholars will have the opportunity to participate in workshops and retreats with their peers, faculty mentors and Posse trainers.

“This is a perfect fit for UNCSA,” said UNCSA Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Patrick J. Sims, who is providing leadership for the initiative. “The Posse Foundation brings to the partnership its vast network for recruiting and its expertise in supporting and mentoring students from underrepresented populations. As a community of artists, UNCSA will reap the rewards of partnering with Posse Arts to create a more diverse student body. We are storytellers, and we are committed to telling stories that inspire justice,” he said. “We need to hear the voices of populations that have not been heard. That is vital to the mission of UNCSA and it is vital to all of our students who will lead in creative industries for generations to come.”

About The Posse Foundation

Since 1989, The Posse Foundation has identified, recruited and trained more than 10,000 public high school students with extraordinary academic and leadership potential. These students — many of whom might have been overlooked by traditional college selection processes — have received a total of $1.7 billion in full-tuition leadership scholarships from Posse’s partner colleges since the program’s inception. Posse extends to these students the opportunity to pursue personal and academic excellence by placing them in supportive, multicultural teams — Posses — of 10 students. Posse Scholars persist and graduate at a rate of 90 percent and make a visible difference on campus and throughout their professional careers. For more information on The Posse Foundation visit

Contact Media Relations

Get the best news, performance and alumni stories from UNCSA.

January 25, 2022