Milton Hershey School Hosts Virtual College Fair and Career Expo
Featuring Tanya Baynham, VP of Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division
To prepare students for success after graduation, Milton Hershey School held a virtual College Fair and Career Expo on April 20 through its Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division. Nearly 500 students joined in the dual event, with MHS sophomores having the chance to learn about 40 colleges and universities, while MHS juniors and select seniors heard about dozens of growing industries from experts in their fields.
“Helping our students select meaningful and individualized postsecondary plans which result in family-sustaining wages is a primary focus of GPS. Our College Fair and Career Expo is just one of the many ways that we educate and expose our students to all the wonderful opportunities which are afforded to them,” said Tanya Baynham, Vice President of GPS.
During the Fair, college representatives offered details about their school, application and admission requirements, as well as answered students’ questions about college life. “The MHS College Fair was a perfect opportunity to connect virtually with MHS students and share the academic, social, and career benefits that Lebanon Valley College offers,” said Ed Wright, LVC’s VP of enrollment. “LVC and Milton Hershey School enjoy a great partnership and we both see tremendous value in continuing education.”
Since the creation of the GPS Division, MHS has increased the college persistence rates of graduates by 6%.
MHS graduates of color persist through college at 20% above their national counterparts and complete college at 15% above their peers. Each MHS student can also accrue up to $95,000 in Continuing Education Scholarship funding that can be used toward tuition as well as room and board expenses, even at private colleges.
“MHS aims to cover the majority, if not all, of our graduates’ postsecondary education expenses,” Baynham said. “We provide immediate college access to 77–88% of our graduates. By comparison, college participation rates for low-income students are 33% nationally and 40% in Pennsylvania. We’re proud of what our GPS division offers and the positive impact it has on our students.”
The MHS success model has been bolstered by strong partnerships with colleges and universities throughout Pennsylvania. MHS has agreements with 24 postsecondary schools in a coordinated effort to increase graduation outcomes for low-income, first-generation college students. These agreements present MHS students with focused and sustained support throughout their college careers, offering them access to individualized academic coaching and comprehensive resources. MHS strengthens this ongoing effort by providing each graduate with a Support Specialist for the duration of college.
The Expo, meanwhile—which featured job advice, networking tips, and even Zoom etiquette techniques—was kicked off by a keynote address presented by Allen Norton, workforce development executive at the Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry. “Businesses today are looking for their next generation of leaders,” Norton said. “You are those future leaders and there’s no limit to where you can go.”
Norton told MHS students that there is an “extreme shortage of skilled talent” across America. College remains important, but just as critical are “employability skills and a willingness to learn. There are great options in the trades and tradespeople are among my heroes because they do such much for our economy,” Norton said.
Following the Expo keynote, students were able to join one of 13 different virtual breakout rooms, which focused on professions ranging from agriculture to construction to information technology. Thirty-nine panelists, including many MHS alumni, offered students straight-forward insights about the business world.
“To be a great CEO you need to be a great time manager and an even better listener,” said Garry Gilliam ’09, MHS alumnus and CEO of The Bridge: Eco Village. “Relationship skills are key. You need to bring people together and surround yourself with those who are driven. Be open, too, to getting advice.”
“In business, it’s important to focus on helping clients solve their problems and overcome challenges,” added Lakken Vining ’12, an MHS alumna and financial planner at Northwestern Mutual. “By doing this, you’re giving people peace of mind.”
The virtual breakouts mirrored the 12 pathways MHS offers through its Career and Technical Education (CTE) program. The program combines tailor-made instruction and hands-on learning with the ability to gain industry-recognized certifications and real-life experience through internships, co-ops, and pre-apprenticeships. Along with exposure to CTE, MHS students receive a dedicated Career Counselor in high school to help them pursue college, the military, or a career after graduation.