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Saying “Goodbye” to My Chosen Family

By Gabby, a senior at MHS

Gabby looking at the camera.People always say, “You can’t choose your family.”

Well, I disagree. I like to believe I have two families: my biological family and my chosen family. Unfortunately, life with my biological family has not always been the most stable or calm environment, and they have not always supported my endeavors. While I love them, there’s something special about my chosen family who is always there to encourage and advocate for me.

I found my chosen family at Milton Hershey School. From houseparents to staff to students, the people I consider to be family are diverse and impressive individuals.

I first viewed them as mentors, friends, and authority figures. Through getting to know them, they became sisters, brothers, cousins, mothers and fathers, and grandparents.

My first “sisters” came from Meadow Brook, my student home of three years. It was there that I realized my family was not limited by genetics. The group of students and staff that traveled to Ghana in 2016, through the school’s Multicultural and Global Education program, quickly integrated itself into my growing family circle. My teacher, Mr. DeAcosta, also became a father figure I could depend on, and spending time with his family over Thanksgiving, Easter, or just a day visit on the weekend are some of my favorite memories.

As my chosen family grows infinitely larger, I continue to realize how much people at MHS care for me and my peers. With just a few weeks until graduation, it’s scary to think that I won’t be around the people who have been my friends and family for years. Part of me is afraid I won’t fit in at college, but part of me is ready for the change.

Students sortihng through fabrics.

Ultimately, I know my MHS family will be there for me. I know MHS graduates are everywhere— I don’t know if I will ever be somewhere where there are no other Milts around. It’s really comforting to know that I won’t be truly alone as long as I’m part of the MHS family.

This fall, I’ll be attending Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. Where I’m from, it’s unheard of to have the opportunity to go to such a great school. I plan on making new friends, but staying in touch with my family at MHS. I know I will need their support over the next four years more than ever.

I want to encourage current students at MHS to take the initiative to make connections with adults as well as other students. Before you graduate, you’re going to need and want that support system. The relationships you make here lift you up and help define who you are, so be proactive in them.

Gabby at an assembly.

Gabby enrolled at MHS in ninth grade from Owosso, Michigan.

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.