Milton Hershey School Students Become Leaders by Learning from Others
By Beautifull Pyatt, MHS Senior
I want to gain as much knowledge and understanding from others as I can. Everyone has something to offer. Since enrolling at Milton Hershey School in 2011—nearly 12 years ago—from Pottstown, Pennsylvania, I have grown and gained valuable experience by learning from leaders through opportunities like interning with The Hershey Company and attending the Student Government Association’s (SGA) Leadership Conference.
I want to grow as a leader because while I hope to accomplish many things in my life, I want to be able to help people. How can you help others and not lead? Since I was in elementary school, many of my teachers and houseparents have told me that I am a natural leader. I want to become the leader they see in me, but that’s only possible if I learn from the leaders around me.
During my time as an MHS student and especially now as I prepare to graduate, I’ve had ample opportunities to test my leadership skills in real-world environments. From being a Resident Assistant in my Transitional Living (TL) building to the internship I held earlier this school year in the Global Customer Insights Center (GCIC) at The Hershey Company, the times I’ve spent learning to lead have helped me realize how important leadership skills can be to overarching success.
The opportunity I had to intern with the GCIC staff helped me to meet, interact, and grow relationships with leaders across the organization. To this day, I call my former supervisors my mentors because of the impact they had on my life and the way they continue to want to invest in my success. I am often reminded of how none of this would have been possible without MHS and the selfless attitudes of our founders, Milton and Catherine Hershey.
Mr. Hershey had a vision to use his chocolate company for good. He led through his actions by creating a town centered around the mission of a school that has allowed my peers and me so many opportunities. At the SGA Leadership Conference, I was reminded of the fact, though, that more than anything, he has inspired so many generations of leaders after him.
After interning at The Hershey Company, I was introduced to Michele Buck, the President and CEO, who showed me—simply by her career—that as a woman, I could break every glass ceiling in front of me. At the SGA Leadership Conference, I was honored to attend the breakout session she led that discussed conquering your greatest fears and becoming your truest self as a leader.
But that’s just the beginning. My friends and I also heard from executives from across central Pennsylvania and beyond, including Leslie Lenzo, CEO and Chief Investment Officer of Hershey Trust Company, John Lawn, President and CEO of Hershey Entertainment & Resorts, Dr. Yatin M. Vyas, Vice President and Physician Leader at Penn State Health Children’s Hospital, among others. Several MHS graduates also offered their expertise on how to become leaders, including Garry Gilliam ’09, CEO of The Bridge, Maria Kraus ’89, CFO of Wedgewood Pharmacy and Vice Chair of the MHS Board of Managers.
MHS has fostered a love of learning from others’ experiences in me and allowed me to lead in ways I wouldn’t have been able to, had I not enrolled at the school. From simply leading my peers in activities in my student home and TL building, to learning how to have professional conversations with Hershey area executives, my life has forever been enhanced by learning to lead from others.