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Milton Hershey School Helped Lifer Seek Excellence

Jose Aviles will graduate in June with the distinction of being a Milton Hershey School lifer. MHS has had more than 600 alumni enroll in pre-K, kindergarten, or first grade. At MHS, these students earn the distinction of being a lifer once they complete their 12 years of schooling and graduate.

As we prepare to celebrate them at the school’s 90th Commencement Ceremony on Sunday, June 9, we asked several of this year’s 18 lifers what their time at MHS has meant to them.

Milton Hershey School lifer Jose Aviles, at right.

What inspired you or your family to choose MHS for your education?

My sister, Selena Aviles, influenced my decision to enroll at MHS. Witnessing her pursuit of a fresh start, I followed her in her footsteps. Her journey inspired me to seek excellence and set on a path towards personal growth and academic achievement. Choosing MHS was not just a decision, it was a testament to our shared commitment to find a brighter future.

How would you describe your journey from the moment you enrolled at MHS to your final year at MHS? 

As a kindergartener, I remember being extremely excited for anything and everything. I remember running into the rec room immediately and being amazed with all the toys while my parents talked with my elementary houseparents. Through the years, I’ve faced many different challenges but they were necessary and shaped who I am today. My final year at MHS has been emotionally a little difficult for me. This place has taught me so much and has become like a second home. While I am ready to figure out what is next, there is still some part of me that doesn’t want to leave just yet.

What does the school theme Breakthrough mean to you? 

To me, Breakthrough means to have a change either emotionally, mentally, or physically because of a particular event or circumstance. A particular Breakthrough moment happened this year when I had a season-ending ankle injury in soccer. Although it was traumatizing for me, I learned so much about myself and realized just how much people at MHS care for me and want me to succeed. It inspired me to keep going even in the face of adversity.

Who has made an impact on you during your time at MHS?

The staff members who have made the biggest impact on me during my time include Mrs. Cook, Mrs. Shirk, and my elementary houseparents, the Helds at student home Ross. They have continuously checked up on me, made sure I was on the right path, and wished the best for me. Without them, I believe my experience at MHS would be completely different.

Milton Hershey School senior Jose Aviles and his teammates.

How has MHS prepared you for your future? 

MHS has given me essential soft skills. I am leaving MHS confident that I can work hard and achieve whatever I set my mind to. I also know that the connections I have made here are very important to me and that I can always reach out if I ever need help.

What are some of the most memorable, fun memories that you’ve had during your time here?  

Some of the most memorable times I have had were during student home vacations.  We could just be ourselves for a week knowing that it was summer and classes were over. I also made a lot of memories with the soccer team, having played since elementary school. I still remember scoring my first goal!

What advice would you share with a younger MHS student as they work hard and persevere toward their own Breakthrough moment? 

Appreciate the time you’re spending here, because you will soon be preparing to graduate!  Your Breakthrough moment will come at the right time, and you will know when it does. Just keep working hard and striving for success. Also, stay involved around campus and in the community, you might never know what amazing opportunities and people you can meet.

Explore Commencement 2024

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.