Katie Muir ’18
Coming from a home where economic stability lacked, Katie Muir ’18 enrolled at Milton Hershey School as a third-grader with dreams of one day breaking the cycle of poverty that had shackled itself to her family.
Katie participated in numerous activities while at MHS and upon her graduation was awarded the Most Nearly Ideal Senior Award for her determination, eloquence, kindness, and love for others. She was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania and was excited to begin the next chapter of her life outside of MHS.
“I would not be going to college had it not been for MHS giving me a quality education and the means to afford such an expensive school as the University of Pennsylvania,” shared Katie.
As she began her first year of college as an international relations major in a new city hours away from her support system, Katie began to struggle. However, she credits MHS with teaching her the value of perseverance, because it was her perseverance and willingness to never give up that carried her through.
“I learned the importance of forgiving yourself. When I was seeing grades I had never seen before, it was a shocker and made me upset,” she said. “But, I had to be understanding that it was first year of college and that I had to keep going and working even harder.”
Katie reached out to the MHS adults and mentors she had relied on in high school to be a shoulder to lean on. To them, this was what they had always done, but to Katie, it meant the world. The Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division also played a role in the support Katie received over the course of her first year, being understanding and offering words of encouragement along the way.
“Knowing that my mentors and GPS were there for me was extremely helpful over the past year,” said Katie.
Having been successful at MHS, Katie felt pressure to be perfect in college and beyond.
“Although it may have been in my head, I felt the pressure to do well because I had gone to MHS and got into one of the best colleges in the U.S.,” she said. “I thought that if I didn’t have a 4.0 GPA, that I was failing, but I know now that’s not true.”
To every MHS alum that feels that pressure, Katie suggests to own it and move forward. “There are going to be bad days and bad grades, but what can you do?,” she shared. “It’s over, so you have to think forward about what you can do better next time.”
Throughout the school year, Katie continued to stay in contact with GPS. She also stayed connected with friends she had graduated with through events coordinated by the MHS Alumni Relations Office.
Katie acknowledges that communicating and being proactive are some of the best things you can do once you graduate from MHS.
“Sometimes it can be embarrassing to reach out, because you may feel like a failure, but in the end [if you don’t] it will only make things worse,” said Katie. “College is a different experience than anything else.”
Some of Katie’s greatest challenges came from not being able to relate to peers because of affluence, managing a new schedule and work load, family situations, and adjusting to being so far away from what she had known for 10 years at MHS. “There is a natural learning curve when you go to college or out on your own for the first time. Some things you just have to figure out when you get there, but it’s not just you,” she said. “Everybody is going through that same learning curve.”
Katie has recognized that your best work will be different at different points in your life and that you can find success everyday by accepting the struggles as they are and continuing to give it your all.
As she was figuring how to keep moving forward, Katie made goals and continuously checked in with herself to ensure that she was making progress. She even reached out to people who she knew would hold her accountable to reach her goals, no matter the circumstances.
“I have gained perspective and reassurance that it is okay to not be perfect because as long as I keep trying, I’ll continue to better myself,” Katie shared. “Next year, I hope to learn more, grow more, and get more involved on campus.”
In the future Katie hopes to attend law school and open her own law firm. She also wants to use her passion for education to impact policies that will benefit all children.