Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program

Isaias Zavala – 2018 Second Place Middle School Essay Winner

IDRA Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2018 Essay Contest

Isaias Zavala

7th Grade, Memorial Middle School, La Joya ISD, Texas

How the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program Transformed Me
When I first started attending the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I thought it was going to be the hardest job on earth, because on the first day my partner’s tutee was on the chair jumping on top of other students. Ever since I joined the program, I started doing my homework earlier, which gave me time to play afterwards. Before I joined, I couldn’t go outside to play after school because the rules of the house are no work, no play. During the first few days of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I didn’t think I was going to make such a great impact on my tutees. I never imagined being a role model for them until a tutee told me that he was going to be like me when he grew up. Ever since I joined Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, my life has changed a lot because I get to practice my English more frequently, and I’ve gained knowledge from the field trips that we have attended.

My life has changed a lot. Before I joined Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I had shoes that were super tight, and the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program helped me buy some new shoes for my family and myself. My mom was studying to become a nurse, and she was having trouble making ends meet with money for an HESI exam she had to present. Luckily, I was able to help with my paycheck, which helped her become a RN.

Before I joined Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, I was sometimes feeling kind of depressed because my parents are divorced but now that I’m earning money, it has turned my whole life around. I can go out more often and enjoy some good restaurants with my family. It feels good to be able to help my mom financially. I also like to get money because I donate five dollars from every paycheck to my church. I truly believe that the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program should be offered in all of the grade levels in middle school.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has molded me into a better person because when the tutees disrespect me, I get a personal experience of how the teachers feel when I talk back to them. I have learned a lot from program because the teacher always gives me advice when I’m having trouble with teachers or with school work. The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has helped me become a more responsible student and person. In school, I would often misbehave, and now that I have been in the program I’m afraid to get a [disciplinary] referral, because I don’t want to get exited out of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program.

I enjoy tutoring my tutees because I express my happy feelings when I am teaching little kids. When I teach, I want the tutees to believe that I am very smart and that they can become smarter than me. It has been a pleasure tutoring at the elementary school, because when they see me walk into their class, the tutees get very happy. The spark in their faces helps me forget all the problems that are happening at home and school.

Being part of the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has made a very positive impact in my life. It has been a great pleasure helping tutor my tutees. I always felt appreciated and welcomed at my school. I am truly glad I was able to participate and learn a lot from this awesome program.


See color highlights flier for 2018 (pdf).

See the booklet with all the winning essays from 2018 (pdf).

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, created by IDRA, is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable, none is expendable. The lives of more than 718,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program.