When Virgil Whitsett ’81 was eight years old, he enrolled at Milton Hershey School after his science teacher recommended the school to his mother.
“My father died when I was eight. My mom thought it would be good to have more of a male influence,” Virgil said. “My brothers were older, so [she thought] coming here and being around a bunch of other young men and a housefather would make a positive influence on me.”
Based on the direction he was going in his hometown before enrolling at MHS, Whitsett says the school completely changed the direction and course of his life. He sums up his experience as gratifying.
“I’m more than thankful for the opportunity. It absolutely shaped who I am,” he said. “Without those 8 years [at MHS], there is a very large possibility I wouldn’t be standing here today.”
Virgil currently works in the telecommunications industry in Philadelphia as a senior post sales engineer. Even though he graduated from MHS more than 30 years ago, he is committed to living out the Hersheys’ values and making positive contributions to his community.
“I was a beneficiary of something many others like me didn’t have the opportunity to take part in. I feel like I didn’t squander that,” said Virgil. “I’m gratified that I used my experience to do what the Hersheys set out to do—be a positive role model … and a productive citizen.”
How does Virgil remember the home and school that shaped him? He wears his class ring every day.
“It’s a silent reminder of the home that I’m connected to, so I wear it with pride,” he said. “Whether anybody notices that I have it on or not, I notice. I plan to have it with me for the rest of my life.”