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How I Discovered the Meaning of Family

June 10, 2018

It’s a day that I’m dreading, but years ago, it was a day that couldn’t come fast enough. After six years attending Milton Hershey School, I am going to graduate.  The past six years have been a crazy roller coaster ride, but the one thing I can say is that this place—a place that was once just a school to me—is now my family.

Growing up, family wasn’t a concept I understood. I was a child of the foster care system. I moved from multiple homes and didn’t experience a stable family situation for the most crucial years of my life.

When I finally was placed in a home that wanted me to be part of their family and wanted to show me the love and care I deserved, I pushed them away because I didn’t comprehend what “family” was.

I was 11 years old when I enrolled at MHS. Looking back, I wish I would have known the impact the people on this campus would have on me. I wish I would have known that, as I get ready to transition into the real world, I have a huge family behind me who will support me.

These family members come from all walks of life. There are my middle school houseparents. They were the first people I encountered on my journey at MHS, and they were the ones who created a family atmosphere for me. From weekend adventures to desserts after study hour, the memories I made with my houseparents and the girls at student home Broad-Acres helped form my mentality that Milton Hershey School would become my family.

During eighth grade, I met a social studies teacher who would become my role model and mentor. She not only taught me academics, but she taught me the importance of kindness and generosity. She went out of her way to always support me and my best friend in some of the hardest moments in eighth grade. To this day, she will reach out to us and consistently mentor us as we prepare to graduate.

Entering high school wasn’t the easiest transition, but for me, it was made easier by another set of role models. When I entered student home Hoover in the fall of 2014,  I was a shy, closed-off student. My new houseparents quickly pulled me out of my shell.

Our home was filled with laughter and jokes, and the girls I lived with quickly turned into my sisters—they are the ones I still turn to today.

In between the jokes and smiles, there were serious conversations, too. I often found myself on the couch in the office asking for advice or seeking closure. These conversations sometimes may not have been easy, but they were exactly what I needed to hear to mature and grow into the person I am today.

In six months, I will be walking across the stage and graduating from Milton Hershey School. Even though I won’t be attending school here any longer, this will always be my home. I will come back to visit my houseparents, teachers, and friends. They are all part of my enormous family.


Samantha enrolled at MHS in sixth  grade from  Lakeville, Massachusetts.

Student Voices Blog

Milton Hershey School students are confident leaders, global citizens, compassionate members of the community, focused scholars and fearless problem solvers. They also have strong voices and inspirational stories. Follow our Student Voices blog series to read students’ perspectives on service, graduation, internships and more, written in their own words.

Read More Student Voices Posts

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Hershey, PA 17033-0830

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