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A Legacy of Female Mentorship at Milton Hershey School

Milton Hershey School has a legacy of women empowering each other to be their greatest selves. That legacy continues today as female staff members take intentional time to invest in the young women across campus. For Tanya Aviles, MHS Middle Division Houseparent, female mentorship has always been close to her heart.

Growing up, Mrs. Aviles found herself looking to the women in her life as role models. With the mission of giving back in mind, Tanya and her husband became houseparents at MHS to Middle Division girls—giving them the opportunity to mentor and guide dozens of young women.

MHS seniors Cora and Elizabeth (Lizzy) felt the impact that Mrs. Aviles had on their lives and appreciated her down-to-earth personality when she was their flex houseparent in eighth grade. As the girls transitioned to high school, they saw the value of her role in their lives and wanted to continue to grow in their relationship. After transitioning to high school, Cora and Lizzy joined the M.O.L.D. mentoring program, where they began a formal mentorship with Mrs. Aviles.

“I value her support and genuine spirit,” said Lizzy. “You can actually tell that Mrs. Aviles cares and supports you, and I know she’s an adult I can rely on.”

Over the past four years, they have been able to call on Mrs. Aviles to help them navigate the good and the bad.

“To have Mrs. Aviles there for me has meant a lot because she is more than just a mentor. We have built a bond where she also plays a motherly role in my life,” Cora shared. “For her to just be there and teach me a lot of life’s lessons has been a truly amazing experience.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mrs. Aviles was very deliberate about making time to connect with Cora and Lizzy in person. Once the pandemic hit, the trio had to become even more intentional about connecting—checking in with each other over text message and FaceTime, attending virtual M.O.L.D. events, and more. They continued to invest in one another and to grow together—a commitment that shows the true spirit of their relationship.

Milton Hershey School Celebrates Female Mentorship

But the mentoring doesn’t stop there. Mrs. Aviles has learned just as much from Cora and Lizzy as they do from her, but the girls have begun to mentor other female students, as well. Over the years, they have developed relationships with and become a resource to the middle schoolers who live in the Aviles’ student home.

“Because some of the girls were worried during their eighth-grade year about transitioning to high school, Lizzy and I made an effort to be there for them. We built a connection, so that we can be a resource to them,” Cora said.

As Cora and Lizzy prepare to graduate from MHS, they are looking forward to keeping in touch with Mrs.  Aviles and continuing to look to her as a female role model as they tackle the next chapter of their lives.

“I’ve learned a lot about myself through my relationship with Cora and Lizzy,” Tanya shared.  “I think it’s very important just to have someone that is a positive person in your life.”

Milton Hershey School does not discriminate in admissions or other programs and services on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religious creed or disability. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.