Dreams coming true

Local teen finds her way at Milton Hershey School

Photo submitted by the MILTON HERSHEY SCHOOL
Joy Johns, of Mifflin, is a junior a the Milton Hershey School who hopes to study criminal justice and become a police officer.

HERSHEY — Joy Johns was a Juniata County teenager who felt she could not reach her highest potential.

Then a brochure promising hope for a brighter future showed up in her mother’s mailbox.

It was an invitation to attend an introduction to the Milton Hershey School held at Hoss’s in Lewistown.

Johns dreamed of being a police officer and studying criminal justice. For her family, financially it did not seem possible. Johns, who is from Mifflin, felt limited.

Her mom did not attend that introduction event at Hoss’s, however. She did look online for more information. Johns then was able to visit the school and get a tour.

Cindy Rice is part of the admissions team for Milton Hershey.

“The first thing you do is fill out an application,” she said, “and the parent or legal guardian fills out information about the student and awaits approval from the school.”

If the student’s application is considered, the student and his or her family meet with house parents, or the couple with whom the student, along with other students, will be living.

The admissions committee then makes a decision.

Johns was accepted to Milton Hershey beginning with the 2016-2017 school year as a sophomore.

“I was going into it expecting the school to provide better classes that allowed for more in-depth conversations,” Johns said.

She admitted she feared the home life would be a challenge — living with people she did not know. She said, however, she adjusted well to her new home.

“The school exceeded all of my expectations,” Johns said, even though courses for her original career choice in criminal justice were full.

She then opted to take some health science courses that first year instead. Those classes helped her in other ways with her criminal justice interests. She was able to take the criminal justice classes this school year as a junior.

“I have been in tons of clubs and other activities,” she said. But her favorite experience has been the summer internship with the Dauphin County Criminal Investigation Division.

“I wrote transcripts for them, sat in on interviews with suspects and took notes. I ran errands and listened to prisoner phone calls and took notes,” she said. Johns also helped count drug money collected from arrests.

This internship has piqued Johns’ interest even more into the criminal justice field, making her more determined to be a police officer one day. She is currently being considered for an additional internship with the same department this summer.

“It’s always been an interest for me to solve the crime,” Johns said.

The experience at Milton Hershey helped her see how women can effectively lead. She said she has been inspired by female detectives during her internship and by the female leadership at Milton Hershey School as well.

“We need more women in law enforcement,” she said, “I keep thinking maybe I could break some of those stereotypes.”

Next school year Johns will be a senior. She is enrolling in college courses from Lebanon Valley College during her 12th grade year. She will be taking courses in street law and a psychology course on why people commit crimes.

She is considering applying for the criminal justice program at Bloomsburg University.

For more information about the Milton Hershey School, call the admissions office at (800) 322-3248, send an email to mhs-admissions@mhs-pa.org, or visit the website www.mhskids.org.