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Milton Hershey School Class Reflections: What I Didn’t Know I Would Learn

By Madison Rodriguez ’22, MHS Alumna

July 30, 2018 will always hold a special place in my heart. This was the day I enrolled at Milton Hershey School. I was nervous, alone, and angry. I didn’t want to be here—I wanted to be home with my family, friends, and in the places I’ve known all my life. I did not yet learn that this was exactly where I was meant to be.

The first day of freshman year I was extremely lost, struggling to find my classes, and not knowing where I fit in at MHS. I refused to ask anyone for help and instead, I called my parents to tell them I wanted to come home. Deep inside, I knew this was the place I belonged, but I wasn’t yet ready for the journey and to learn new things.

Milton Hershey School alumna, Madison Rodriguez '22, shares what she learned as an MHS student.

With the rocky start behind me, I started talking more. I made new friends that I still carry with me today. I formed caring relationships with my teachers and houseparents. These are the people who have guided me, mentored me, and been there for me through my many ups and downs. I started to embrace the things I could learn at MHS.

One of the biggest lessons I learned is to talk less and listen more. I learned the value in choosing my words wisely and that being a leader doesn’t always mean you’re the first to speak, but that you offer a thoughtful response. I’ve learned the importance of listening—helping me to grow as a person and create positive and meaningful connections with others. These skills will last a lifetime.

Just last month, I walked across the stage at Giant Center, received my high school diploma, and became an MHS graduate. I owe a lot to the people in my life—my MHS family and my family at home—for helping me reach this incredible milestone. Enrolling at MHS just four short years ago, I didn’t know what the road ahead would look like and I had no idea how much I would learn. What I received was an education in what’s important: the people you love, the way you treat others, and how to be the greatest version of myself.

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.