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Jeff Cooke, Sr. ’83

Jeff Cooke, Sr. ’83 describes his time at Milton Hershey School as transformative. When he was growing up he recognized that he was headed down a bad path, not because he was a bad kid, but because of his circumstances growing up in Philadelphia.

“There were some pretty bad people I had come into contact with,” he said. “It was a gang situation, and I wasn’t interested.”

At the time, Jeff says his solution was to avoid going to school altogether.

“I’d leave in the morning and go to the park. I did that for two months and then my mom and my grandmother got wind and forced me to go back to school.”

During that time, Jeff says his mom was looking for ways to get Jeff and his brother into another school.

“My mom understood the value that would come from an education from Milton Hershey School. She wanted to ensure we had the tools necessary to really thrive in the world. Milton Hershey School certainly gave that to us. I couldn’t see it back then, as a 15-year-old, but my mom could see that very clearly.”

Jeff says the week after his mom and his grandmother found out he was avoiding school by hanging out at the park, he was accepted to Milton Hershey School.

“It’s a huge decision to send your child away, but I can tell you, the sacrifice is worth it.”

Jeff is a Senior Financial Consultant at PNC Investments.


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. Read important MHS policies on equal opportunity and diversity, equal employment opportunity, and more.