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.
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.