Milton Hershey School Senior Received the Gift of Opportunity
By Chase Usner, MHS Senior
As I’ve gotten older, there is not much I can remember from before the age of four. It was a milestone year for me because it’s the age I enrolled at Milton Hershey School. Doing some quick math, this means I’ve been attending MHS for 14 years. It’s crazy to think that I’ve grown up here, taking the opportunity for my greatest childhood memories to exist on this campus.
But I’m ready to begin my next adventure, thanks to MHS.
When my grandparents made the decision to enroll me at the school, I couldn’t yet comprehend what this decision would do for my life. Today, I say with certainty that my life is forever changed because of MHS and the staff and students who make it special.
Since the moment I arrived over a decade ago, I’ve had every opportunity to grow and learn, while enjoying so many firsts. I had the privilege to grow up at MHS and most of my first memories involve my experiences in the student home. While I know this will be different from my peers in college, it’s a unique part of my life and I’m grateful that MHS is forever an important piece of my childhood.
While at MHS, I’ve participated in athletics, learned real-life career skills through internships, and completed an entire semester of college courses through Elizabethtown College. I am excited to have the opportunity to continue my studies at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers, Florida—just over an hour from my home in Sarasota.
Being so far away from family can be challenging, but with the help of MHS teachers, houseparents, and mentors, I found my place on campus and began to appreciate the stability and resources I had at my fingertips. From the clothing center where students can find any item of clothing they need to the meals and activities inside and outside the student home, MHS ensures every need is covered.
Even though I’m leaving the place where I’ve grown up the last 14 years, I know that this chapter of my life will never close. As an MHS alumnus, I’ll always cherish the relationships I made at the school and be able to lean on them for support during good and hard times. I will always look back on this time of my life gratefully.
What is even crazier than the number of years I’ve spent at MHS, is the intentional way the school was founded and why it continues to exist today. After starting the school in 1909 with his wife Catherine, Milton S. Hershey left his entire fortune in the form of a trust to the school so that it could live on in perpetuity.
Mr. Hershey never met me, but he has changed my life over the last 14 years by offering me every opportunity I could have dreamed of and will only continue to do so moving forward. So, to Mr. and Mrs. Hershey, I say thank you for allowing me a safe and exciting place to grow up—a place named after a chocolate bar.