Female Success: Advice from MHS Alumni
At Milton Hershey School, our female alumni are changing the world as teachers, doctors, diplomats, writers, policy directors, and members of the military.
As they make their mark on society, they act with confidence, strength, empathy, and awareness. They know what it’s like to face adversity and rise above the many stereotypes and challenges in their lives.
In honor of Women’s History Month, females of all ages from the MHS alumni network shared their advice for achieving success and becoming compassionate, fearless leaders.
“Success is not about position, title, or money. It’s about feeling whole and fulfilled in whatever you do. Make sure you have gratitude and humility each day—that’s being successful.” –Amanda Williams ‘99
Amanda is the Practice Operations Director at Penn Medicine.
“When I used to envision success, it looked like a ladder which meant there was only one way to get there. After I decided to take the leap and [move to Thailand], it allowed me to see that there isn’t one way to achieve success.” –Shawnda Kohr ’08
Shawnda lives in Thailand and teaches English to young children.
“Everybody’s idea of success is different. You have to decide what’s important to you. To some people, it’s their career. To others, it’s family. When you decide what’s important to you and you achieve that, that is success.” –Rechanda Willis ‘06
Rechanda works at an outpatient surgical center in the Philadelphia area.
“You may feel external pressures to excel, and more importantly, you might be placing internal pressure on yourself to excel. I think each person has to define for themselves what success will be…and know that they can lean on alumni.” –Kimberly Elenberg ’88
Elenberg works with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Office of the Chief Medical Officer as the deputy director for population health, medical management, and patient-centered medical home.
“Take advantage of each opportunity the school provides. Be fearless because this type of opportunity only happens once in your life.” –Aisha Stroop ‘94
Aisha is an emergency medicine doctor at Nyack Hospital in New York where she manages life-threatening emergencies, patient care and critical decisions.
“A lot of what I learned at MHS, both actively and organically, was a sense of independence. I had to learn to find answers, and as I got older, that became a quickly realized skillset.” –Kay Oyegun ‘05
Kay is a staff writer for hit shows, including “This Is Us” and “Queen Sugar.”
“I tell others, it’s okay to change your career. Do not be afraid of change. Anyone can change – just make sure you are doing something that is going to make you smile.” –Jay Jeanette Diaz Auxier ’02
Jay recently earned her nursing certification and currently works as a nurse technician.
“A lot of my student population comes from similar circumstances as many of us did at MHS. I like to impress upon them [the value of] community … the idea of embracing what life gives you…and not allowing negative circumstances to pull you down.” –Aimee Charles ’06
Aimee is a teacher at a small charter school in Phoenix.
“My advice for students is to explore what you’re interested in and also explore what you aren’t interested in. You never know where you’ll find your talents. Talk to people; talk to alumni; talk to your fellow students; and talk to teachers. Get to know who you are.” –Lulu Tunis ’04
Lulu works as a resource coordinator for the IKEA property team.
“Having mentors from MHS who believed in me, even when I embarked on challenges and difficulties, really helped give me the confidence I needed to do well.” –Tiffany Chang Lawson ‘07
Tiffany serves as the Executive Director for the Pennsylvania Governor’s Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs.
Understanding Work Ethic
“I’m a hard worker. I’m constantly networking, and I write all the time. What you think you’re going to do at age 25 probably won’t be the same at age 40. So take a job, because experience is currency. Those who work are four steps ahead of everybody else.” –Kate Casey ‘95
Kate is a writer and comedian. She manages a blog and podcast and performs stand-up comedy.
“MHS taught us how to make things happen, not just to dream them. We learned how to be professional and how to treat people. If you know how to have integrity and deliver on your end of the deal, you’re going to be pretty successful in the business world.” –Julie Viera ’09
Julie works with an alumna to manage a collaborative online movement called Digital Diversity.
“MHS gave me the skills I need to be disciplined. In my current job where I’m constantly multi-tasking, having discipline really helps. I know how to prioritize and focus on what’s important.” –Trachanda Garcia ’02
Trachanda is the Director of Global Education at Chestnut Hill College in Philadelphia, PA.
Being an Individual
“It can be intimidating in this career because a lot of people come from more privileged backgrounds. Don’t let that scare you off. Be confident. Sometimes our background is what helps us to be more empathetic and understanding on the job.” –Ashley Barriner-Byrd ’01
Ashley is a U.S. diplomat and spends most of her career overseas.
“When I first came to MHS, I was really selfish and only cared about myself. As time went on, [the school] helped me grow up. I think it was because of all the support MHS gave me—they believed in me when I felt like nobody else did.” –Madison Sottasante ’15
Madison serves in the United States Marine Corps—only 9 percent of Marines are female.
“When I was making my junior prom dress, I left the pattern back at the student home – it was my way of making my dress different. My teacher gave me a D because I lost the pattern, but I learned that I liked things that were different.” –Bridget Savadge ’87
Bridget is the lead wardrobe technician for “Ka,” the Cirque Du Soleil show in Las Vegas.
“I was taught excellence at Milton Hershey School. I was taught charity. I was taught through love and as long as I pass that on, I feel good.” –Dr. Nadine Hokayem ‘89
Nadine is a naturopathic physician with her own practice. She’s a leader in science-based natural medicine.
“I was someone who benefited from people who had the spirit of giving back. I grew up in a very tough environment. I benefited from the good heart and good nature of other people, and it gave me a sense of commitment to helping others.” –Algene Sajery ‘95
Algene serves as the Democratic Policy Director for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“The younger generation is going to join us in the workforce one day and become our role models. I try to put myself in their shoes and share what it looks like to be a probation officer. It’s rewarding to educate them and help them make good choices.” –Brienna Mundy ‘04
Brienna is a juvenile probation officer for York County Probation.
Hear from more MHS alumni by following along with our Success Stories!
Tips and Resources
At Milton Hershey School, students learn alongside our talented educators who enhance the learning process with comprehensive STEAM curriculum, character and leadership development, educational technology, and problem-based learning opportunities. Take a look at valuable tips and resources from our staff.