Hannah Monette ’16
As a struggling seventh-grader, Hannah Monette was searching for something more. One day, at a doctor’s appointment, she started talking to a Milton Hershey School parent/sponsor about the opportunities that await at the school.
“I had never heard of the school before, but when I found out that MHS would provide me with many opportunities, including attending college, I was sold,” Hannah said. “I went home that day, printed off an application, and submitted it in April of 2011.”
On September 26, 2011, Hannah enrolled at Milton Hershey School and started to feel relief from the challenging life circumstances that come from poverty.
“We felt the relief of knowing that everything was taken care of for us at the school,” Hannah said. “We had food to eat, clothes to wear, and never had to worry about a medical/dental bill—and neither did our families.”
Hannah and all MHS students are able to focus on being a kid and enjoying academic programming, friendships, relationships with faculty, and extracurricular interests.
While at MHS, Hannah chose the Career and Technical Education (CTE) program’s Agriculture and Natural Resources career pathway for hands-on learning opportunities. She earned over 10 different nationally recognized certifications before graduation, and became an active member in the school’s Future Farmers of America (FFA) Association.
“Mr. Nick Isenberg was my agriculture teacher throughout my high school career, and his kindness, humor, and love for agriculture was what made me thrive in the program,” Hannah said.
As a senior at MHS, Hannah participated in the Transitional Living (TL) experience where she had the opportunity to live in an apartment with four other female seniors. Students in TL navigate their own daily responsibilities and solve unexpected problems—just like in the real world.
“I went into college more independently driven than other students who relied heavily on their parents to pay their bills or manage their finances,” Hannah said. “MHS graduates already know how it feels to live with other people and have a seamless transition from high school to college life because of the Transitional Living experience.”
Hannah graduated from Milton Hershey School in the spring of 2016 and was excited to start her next academic journey at Messiah University, majoring in environmental science.
During her four-year program, Hannah took full advantage of her Continuing Education Scholarship (CES)—a Milton Hershey School-funded scholarship totaling up to $95,000 for postsecondary education expenses.
“After financial aid, my CES funding covered all four years of my undergraduate degree at Messiah University,” Hannah said. “Because I didn’t have to worry about the financial aspect of college, I was able to fully focus on my academics and getting involved.”
Hannah’s scholarship paid for tuition and housing expenses, meal plans, and textbooks. She even studied abroad for a semester in Paris, France, with the financial assistance of MHS.
“Not only did MHS support me financially throughout college, but they also kept in contact with me through the MHS Graduate Programs for Success (GPS) Division,” Hannah said. “Keri Ambrocik, MHS Manager of College and Career Readiness, visited Messiah every couple of months to check in on me and other MHS graduates. She would help me look for summer internships or prepare me for future opportunities.”
While at Messiah, Hannah became a work-study student in the Office of Financial Aid, and worked there all four years of college. Upon graduating from Messiah University, Hannah began a career as a financial aid coordinator at Marywood University in her hometown of Scranton, Pennsylvania. After only three months on the job, she was promoted to a financial aid counselor. She now helps prospective students and their families navigate the financial aid process.
“I am so very grateful that I was able to graduate from college with no student debt,” Hannah said. “Especially during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, I did not have to stress about paying back student loans—I was able to focus on investigating a career that suited me.”
Just like MHS prepared Hannah for college and beyond, she wants to do the same for Marywood students and their families.
“As a product of a low-income family, I know the struggles of trying to figure out college on your own, but I had MHS as a support system and that motivates me every day in this role.”
The Milton Hershey school community became a second family to Hannah. She would like to thank MHS co-founders, Milton and Catherine Hershey, for giving her hope, determination, passion, strength, and opportunities.
“MHS was a safe haven that allowed me to dream my biggest dreams, and finally believe in myself,” Hannah said. “I hope Milton and Catherine Hershey would be proud of me, just as I am, to be a Milton Hershey School alumna.”