Milton Hershey School Class Reflections: Learning to Face My Fears
By Jaison Nieves ’22, MHS Alumnus
During the five years I attended Milton Hershey School, I’ve changed and grown beyond what I thought was possible—because I was encouraged to face my fears. Coming to MHS when I was in eighth grade, I was a very shy and quiet student. I was terrified to even ask for help on how to get to my classes or to simply walk into the room when I finally found it. I went through eighth grade petrified to talk to people, failing to make connections with my teachers, houseparents, or peers.
Before I transitioned to Senior Division, my social studies teacher, Mr. Reilley, wrote in my yearbook: “I think you’re going to surprise a lot of people at MHS…but there’s a reason you’re here and it’s to enjoy all the opportunities we offer. Take advantage and show everyone what you’re capable of.”
As I moved on to the next step in my MHS journey, I kept these words top of mind, acknowledging that it was time to face my fears and push myself out of my comfort zone. I was determined to figure out what type of person I wanted to be when I grew up by embracing the opportunities in front of me and growing connections within the MHS community. I wanted to find out how I could best represent myself and make my family proud. I embraced this challenge head on.
I joined the soccer team, Student Government Association, and more, doing everything I could to prove to myself that I could to face my fears and meet my expectations. Even during the pandemic, I did what I could to step up and set a path forward for myself. Being the first in my family to attend college, I was scared, but the I knew that MHS had given me the skills I need to be successful.
Five years after enrolling at MHS, I know that I can’t wait for opportunities to come to me. I have to push myself, face my fears, and embrace every challenge. I know that I don’t have to be terrified to ask for help. I don’t have to fear failure. I don’t have to belittle myself because of expectations. I have to reach for my goals, knowing that my MHS community will continue to be here for me and understanding that when I face my fears, I am being the person everyone knew I could be.
Now an MHS graduate, I am proud of the man I have become and am excited to watch as I reach new opportunities. None of this would have been possible had MHS—my teachers, mentors, houseparents, and more—not taught me to be fearless.