When Faith Zeller ’00 enrolled at Milton Hershey School as a freshman, she knew if she didn’t change her current situation she would end up repeating the cycle of poverty. Through the help of role models and mentors, Faith found her way to MHS.
“In seventh grade, a counselor at my school told me about Milton Hershey School,” she said. “I lost my mom my seventh grade year and I was in a really volatile place. The counselor told me, ‘You are going to do great things, but you won’t be able to do great things here.’ That’s how I began my MHS journey.”
Following the death of her mother, a local police officer who patrolled Faith’s neighborhood in her hometown of Keene, New Hampshire looked out for Faith. They officer and his wife made sure she was safe and stepped in as mentors to guide and direct her.
“I had no home,” she said. “I was a great student, but got into trouble because I didn’t have parental guidance. They were always there coaching me and helping me do bigger and better things. They were my inspiration to do something better with my life.”
Faith gained additional mentors when she arrived at MHS. She learned not to give up on herself and recalled a time when her cross-country coach showed up at her student home and made sure she got to practice.
“I didn’t want to run,” she said. “I thought I’d never make it through, but my coach showed up and made me run. Each day I got better and looking back on it, it was an incredible spark moment for me. She didn’t let me give up on myself. She taught me that it gets easier if you just keep practicing, learning, and teaching yourself. It’s a lesson I carry with me today.”
After graduating from MHS in 2000, Faith attended University of New Hampshire where she struggled to find her place.
“The class sizes were huge compared to what I was used to at MHS,” she said. “I came from a class size of 80-some students and was placed in lecture halls of 500 students. I felt lost.”
Just 30 credits shy of graduating, Faith stepped back and reevaluated her life. She found her first career in copier sales and later transitioned from sales to marketing where she taught herself the foundation for social media, inbound marketing, and business. She currently runs the marketing department for Nutmeg Technologies, an IT company in South Windsor, Connecticut.
“I was fortunate enough to build the department from the ground up,” she said. “When I came onboard, we didn’t have anything in the way of marketing. We had a one-page website, and as a small to medium size business, they were in the beginning stages of growing. So over the past three years, I’ve had the opportunity to really build a brand and build on our messaging. I love what I do.”
Beyond her career, Faith loves mentoring the interns at Nutmeg Technologies and is currently mentoring a high school senior.
“Sometimes these kids don’t have any guidance, and all it takes is one amazing conversation to transition their life,” she said. “I hope one day I can be that one conversation that guides someone’s life.”
Faith also assists the MHS admissions team with prospective family events in New Hampshire and Rhode Island and speaks with prospective parents/sponsors.
“If I can reach out to families and show them what MHS has given to me, it feels like I’m giving back,” she said. “MHS not only gave me an education, it gave me my solid foundation.”
In 2017, Faith was named as one of the Hartford Business Journal’s 40 Under 40. Out of several hundred applicants, Faith was one of the 40 chosen for her career and mentorship.
“It’s nice to be recognized for what you do for your community,” she said. “Milton and Catherine Hershey’s sacrifices and dedication to helping children like me helped me make it through a life I never thought I’d survive.”
MHS Success Stories
At Milton Hershey School, the success of our alumni is immeasurable. Thousands of Milts are making their own footprints on the world as productive contributors to society. Our graduates serve an important role in the MHS family as role models for generations to come. Learn more about our accomplished alumni by reading their inspiring Success Stories.