By Liz, a high school senior at Milton Hershey School – It has taken a lot for me to become the woman I am today, and I still have a long way to go.
At the end of my junior year of high school, I was in a low spot. I acted as if everything was fine, but inside, I was not okay. Thankfully, when I visited the apartment-style building that would become my home at Milton Hershey School, the staff handed us a blank paper plate. They told us to write down everything that held us back and what we were known for during our underclassman years. I wrote a lot of negative things because I lacked worth within. Then, they told us to turn the plate over and realize it was blank and clean. The clean slate would be our senior year, and it depended on what we chose to do with it.
My senior year has given me a community that has offered me a fresh start. That is what I desperately needed, and I took full advantage of that clean slate. I changed my perspective, surrounded myself with better people, gained amazing mentors, increased positive self-talk, and decreased negative actions that did not express my character or worth.
It has been a year of growth, and the growth that I went through has been more than I could have ever imagined. I had to use courage to face past events that weighed me down and affected the way I viewed myself. It took a lot for me to seek help so I would be strong mentally. To be strong, you need to seek help and address issues that weigh you down. Even if it’s scary, it will be worth it.
In order to become a strong woman, you also have to surround yourself with other strong women. My mentor this year has supported me through a lot of things, and I love how she carries herself and the inner strength she possesses. She sees me for who I am, and her support has lifted me up onto a path toward a successful future.
You have to face what’s holding you back and prioritize your personal growth.
Through the many conversations I’ve had with my mentor and other staff members, I have learned a lot. I’m beginning to love the woman that I am again. With their help, I have found balance and learned the importance of self-care. In the past, I would try to control other people’s words and actions, and I worried over them. With the help of others, I realized I have zero control of those things and I’ve been able to focus more on myself and make growth a priority.
Today’s world can be scary for women. That’s why it is crucial to empower yourself and others.
In order to empower yourself, you have to face what’s holding you back and prioritize your personal growth. If you don’t make yourself a priority, you cannot expect anyone else to.
Female empowerment starts small within yourself and with powerful women surrounding you, like my mentors. With them, you can discuss how they became the people they are today. You might be surprised—most of their stories will resonate with yours.
Most importantly, stop spewing hate onto others. Words hurt, and they can affect another generation of women. Instead, use your energy to lift up other women and break the glass ceiling through unity.
About The Author: Liz is a high school senior at Milton Hershey School in Hershey, PA—a cost-free private residential school for more than 2,000 students from lower income families. Liz enrolled at the school in fifth grade from Exeter, PA and plans to attend Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina after graduation.