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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.”

Milton Hershey School alumnus, Jaison Nieves '22, shares how MHS helped him to face his fears.

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.

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.