Anir Sanders ’16
When Anir Sanders ’16 was in ninth grade, his mom told him about Milton Hershey School.
“My family had recently went back to north Philadelphia. It was a really bad area,” he said. “My mom refused to let me go to one of those schools, so she said, ‘You’re going to Milton Hershey School.’”
It took time for Anir to adjust to the structure of MHS, including designated sleep times, wake-up times, and clean-up times. But it was the connections he made with students and staff that helped MHS begin to feel like home.
“MHS is a very ambitious environment and I’ve connected with everyone I’ve met there in some way,” Anir said. “Everyone gave me a reason to stay. Whether it was a friend, a teacher, a bus driver, or a cafeteria lady, I had a conversation with almost everybody and everybody had a conversation with me.”
During high school, Anir was involved in a variety of activities that were new to him—including horsemanship, acting, television production, and cooking. He even had the opportunity to create videos about the school’s roundabout project, which gave him experience presenting to a professional audience.
“I have friends in north Philadelphia who can’t even believe the kind of stuff I was [involved in] at Milton Hershey School,” Anir shared. “There are opportunities for almost every career—I would not have had those opportunities outside of MHS for free.”
After graduating in 2016, Anir enrolled at the Community College of Philadelphia to study film and pursue a career in screenwriting, videography and cinematography. The friendships he has formed at college, along with the supportive relationships from MHS, have kept him focused and positive.
“Keep a social bubble that’s supporting you. You don’t want people who are lazy and negative,” Anir said. “Just keep positive vibes in your circle and you’ll be perfectly fine.”
Anir also finds support from Milton Hershey School’s Graduate Programs for Success (GPS), which provides individualized resources and support to help MHS alumni navigate each phase of life. When MHS transition specialists check-in with Anir and visit him at college, it helps him create a plan for his future with someone who understands his journey.
“It’s been great to be able to talk to somebody who understands, and who is willing to sit down with me and evaluate my life,” said Anir.
As a college student who is thriving in and out of the classroom, Anir says MHS was the push he needed to aspire for success.
“After coming from a home with a single mother, being homeless at one point, and not knowing where my meals were coming from, success for me is being able to wake up, go to work, have friends, have fun, and know my bills are paid,” Anir said. “Being in a stable environment and knowing that everyone I love is taken care of—that’s probably the best meaning of success. I owe it to MHS that I’m on this track.”