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Author Shares His Own Story of Overcoming Poverty with MHS Students

Despite a challenging upbringing filled with racism, abuse, and neglect, JT McCormick has used every circumstance in his life to be a better man and leader. He broke the cycle of poverty in his life and recently shared his compelling story with MHS students who are trying to do the same.

The visit to MHS came after Senior Division students read his book I Got There: How I Overcame Racism, Poverty and Abuse to Achieve the American Dream. Many students were inspired to write JT directly to express gratitude for the book and share their own experiences.

“Mr. McCormick’s story shows the MHS Sacred Values in action,” said MHS junior Anthony Sanders. “He never took the low road. He persevered when everything was turned against him, and he worked harder than anyone. Learning how he motivated himself and what kept him grinding toward his goals is something that has stayed with me after reading this book.”

“JT’s story resonates with MHS students because he found his way out of terrible situations to ultimately achieve his definition of success,” said Tony O’Neal, the teacher who assigned the students to read the book and coordinated the visit. “JT is here to encourage our students to persevere through hardship and strive for greatness.”

Author JT McCormick poses for a group photo with Milton Hershey School students during a recent visit to the school.

JT’s visit included a campus tour of Memorial Hall, student homes, and the Career & Technical Education (CTE) classrooms.

“It is incredible what students can learn at MHS. Being able to explore their passions is life-changing,” said JT. “I encourage students to take advantage of everything because it is all here for them. The community will help each student be successful.”

In the book and throughout his talk, JT describes his life being raised by a negligent, drug-dealing father and a struggling, single mother on welfare. His first job was cleaning toilets at a restaurant. He eventually found success in the mortgage industry, but hit a major roadblock which led to losing that job and all his money. He picked himself up and worked his way back to become president and CEO of multimillion-dollar companies.

“If you take anything away from the talk, know that your past does not define you,” added JT. “You can control your work ethic and effort, and with those two things, you will achieve whatever success means to you.”

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.