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Pandemic Challenges Class of 2020—We Prevail

By Amber Kostelnik ’20

On March 13, 2020, my graduating class was challenged with uncertainty. Unsure of what the outcome could be, we stayed positive. For three months, we had to persevere, even though it would have been easy to give up. Through all the negative comments, our class held strong.

Amber Kostelnik poses for a photo with her family.

Photo courtesy of Amber Kostelnik ’20

Before enrolling at Milton Hershey School in August of 2012, my life was not easy. I was living in Butler, Pennsylvania, which is plagued with poverty, crime, and despair. My family lived off of food stamps and in bad neighborhoods. We couldn’t afford items such as clothes, shoes, and lived from paycheck-to-paycheck. We were constantly moving from place-to-place due to financial struggles, which made it hard for me to fit in at school.

I was bullied for how I looked, what I wore, how I did my hair, and much more. There would be days where I would lie to my mom and tell her I didn’t feel well so I wouldn’t have to go to school. I gave up on school, which ultimately led me to have failing grades.

Before school started the next year, my family attended a vacation bible school in the summer from a Hershey missionary group. They discussed

the idea of MHS with my parents and how it would better our lives.

A portrait photograph of MHS senior Amber Kostelnik.

Photo courtesy of Amber Kostelnik ’20

Thankfully, it did. A few months later, my siblings and I had our interviews and were accepted to MHS. That day was forever life-changing for my family. I was later welcomed to my new home and immediately felt loved. I knew after meeting the girls that I would have a second family.

I learned a lot from my past, and MHS has made my future bright. MHS has blessed me with multiple opportunities that I will forever be thankful for.


Read More About the Class of 2020

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. View full Equal Opportunity Policy.