is presented to one graduate per year who meets each of the following criteria:
- demonstrated humanitarianism and exemplary service to others
- demonstrated high standards of integrity through his or her personal life
- reached outstanding levels of achievement in his or her career field
The Alumnus of the Year Award committee also takes into consideration any contributions the alumnus or alumna has made to MHS through involvement in student programming or by assisting MHS Admissions staff with student recruitment efforts. While nominations are accepted at anytime, they must be received by October 1 to be considered for the following year. The Alumnus of the Year Award is presented each year during Commencement.
Milton Hershey School Names 2017 Alumnus of the Year
Col. Eric Welsh ’84 recognized for his global humanitarianism and service to our country
HERSHEY, Pa. – Milton Hershey School® has named retired Col. Eric Welsh ’84 the 2017 Alumnus of the Year, recognizing his global humanitarian efforts, 28-year military career and selfless service to homeless veterans.
“Col. Welsh is setting the example for all of us when it comes to service, putting service to his country and service to others above everything else,” said Pete Gurt ’85, president of MHS. “Through that service, he is applying the values he learned at Milton Hershey School—values like integrity, honor, loyalty and respect. We are proud of his achievements and the example he’s setting for our current students.”
Welsh enrolled at MHS when he was 9 years old. During his time at the school, he developed lifelong skills that helped build the foundation of his character. He learned from adult mentors and participated in athletics, band, choir and student senate.
“I believe Milton Hershey School saved my life,” said Welsh. “The school faculty and senior leaders taught me everything necessary to be successful in life and I always will endeavor to be worthy of their investment in me. In their everyday actions, they modeled the core values that matter so much to me—loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage. MHS is my home and the people there will always be my family.”
After graduating from MHS, Welsh attended Kent State University in Ohio, majoring in political science while earning the designation of distinguished military graduate.
He spent 28 years with the U.S. Army and served in several high-level, active-duty leadership roles all over the globe, as well as a key advisory position at the Pentagon. A decorated soldier, Welsh’s military awards include three Bronze Stars, one with valor, a Purple Heart and Legion of Merit, among other honors.
After retiring from the military, Welsh moved to Atlanta, Georgia. with his two teenage sons to work at The Coca-Cola Company. He now serves as global operations director for Coca-Cola’s EKOCENTERTM project. Through EKOCENTER, a modular community market, Welsh has helped thousands of people in Africa and Asia gain access to basic goods and services such as safe drinking water, electricity and communication access.
He’s also the founder of Almost Home Foundation, Inc. a pending non-profit in Georgia that helps combat-experienced veterans and their families transition from military to civilian life. The foundation also addresses the unmet needs of post-traumatic stress treatment for veterans.
Milton Hershey School will honor Welsh during a special recognition dinner on Saturday, June 10. He will address students and staff during the 2017 Commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 11.
Previous Alumnus of the Year Winners
|First||Last||Year Grad||Year Received Award|
|Anthony||Graves||1987||2015 Pediatric Cancer Researcher|
|Jason||Wolfe||1987||2014 Inventor and Entrepreneur|
|Kimberly||Elenberg||1988||2012 U.S. Public Health Services|
|Paul||Taylor||1953||2011 Aerospace Industry|
|Mary||Trinh Pentel||1986||2009 Medicine/Dermatology|
|Gerald P.H.||Ballough||1976||2008 Biology/Research Scientist|
|Thomas G.||McClay||1967||2007 Engineering|
|E. Michael||Kenna||1970||2006 Graphics Arts/Entrepreneur|
|Alan D.||Krashesky||1978||2005 Broadcasting|
|Richard C.||Zilmer||1970||2004 Military Service-Marine Corps|
|J. Barry||Love||1951||2003 Teacher and Philosopher|
|Robert||Brill||1960||2002 Agri-Business Entrepreneur|
|James||Finnegan||1948||2000 Editorial Writer|
|Merrill||Lynn||1948||1997 Research Scientist|
|A.||Gabig||1953||1995 Corporate Law|
|David||Bowser||1957||1994 Building Construction|
|Graham||McIntire||1949||1991 U.S. Army-Education|
|Adrian||Taylor||1947||1989 Advertising, Design & Journalism|
|James||Hoeschele||1955||1988 Biomedical Research|
|J.||McKinney||1955||1987 Business Management|
|William||Duff||1952||1984 Architecture Building Const.|
|John||Rineman||1945||1983 Medical Services Administration|
|First||Last||Year Grad||Year Received Award|
|Michael||Kay||1954||1981 Thoroughbred Racing|
|E. Wallis||Callahan||1944||1980 Culinary Arts|
|K. Thomas||Davies||1953||1978 Theoretical Physics|
|Richard||Davies||1954||1978 Theoretical Physics|
|William||Pugh||1943||1977 Government-Diplomatic Service|
|John||Aichele||1939||1974 Business Affairs-Education|
|Lewis||Eckert||1939||1973 Research & Development|
|E.||Jones||1950||1971 Public Relations|
|Edward||Rutty||1947||1968 Military Service-Marine Corps|
|John||Hart||1936||1963 Personal Management|
|William||Wagner||1927||1960 Industrial Service Engineering|
|Burdsall||Miller||1938||1959 Military Service-Air Force|
|Richard||Light||1941||1958 Electrical Engineering|