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Valued Youth Partnership

Christian Ortiz

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2014 Essay Contest

Winner: Middle School First Place

View printable PDF version of this winning essay 

Christian Ortiz
7th grade, Domingo Treviño Middle School, La Joya, Texas

Since I became a tutor…

I am very thankful to the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. It changed my behavior, attitude and the way I viewed things immensely. Before I was in this program, I was very ignorant toward my teacher’s lessons. Even though they had talks with me about my ignorance in class and my behavior when I interact with my colleagues, the talks really never seemed to get through my head. I also had troubles at home because I was very slothful and irresponsible. I would always argue with my parents because I did not want to do my homework and chores. Deep down, I have always wanted to change, but I had a very weak will and could never better myself – until I found my way into the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. This program helped me in so many unimaginable ways.

Since I became a tutor, I have become a better person, and I never expected this. In the beginning of the year, the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program teacher in our school asked me during lunch if I would like to join the program. He explained the process of the program. I immediately agreed after I heard I would be making $120 month. The first day of tutoring came, and I was really nervous. My VYP teacher chose my three tutees (they were from third grade), and I got to work right that day. We went to the library, and I gave them a lesson about the place value chart, which was what they were learning. I saw how they were so quiet and respectful during the lesson. I asked them questions, and they answered them without any trouble.

That first day was when my whole world changed immensely. I never thought that three little 9 year olds could inspire and motivate me in so many ways. That day, I went home and apologized to my mother, told her from now on I would do my homework and chores without having to be told twice, and I also told her about my first day with the tutees. I told her I would give her $50 from my first paycheck for the bills. She told me she was so proud of me and that I should write to my father who is in a federal prison. I went ahead and did that, and two days later I received his letter that said he was proud of me for being the man of the house. When I went to school, I told my teachers that I would catch up on all the work and pay attention to all their lessons. As days went by, teachers, friends and family commented on my change of attitude and behavior.

I think I was destined to be in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program. I think that if I had not been in this program there would be no way that I could change the way I was. To this day, I thank my tutees for being my inspiration, and I no longer do it for the money. I do it for the tutees and me. I personally want to thank the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program for giving me this opportunity to change my lifestyle.


The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, created by IDRA, is an internationally-recognized cross-age tutoring program. Since its inception in 1984, the program has kept more than 33,000 students in school, young people who were previously at risk of dropping out. According to the Valued Youth creed, all students are valuable none is expendable. The lives of more than 787,000 children, families and educators have been positively impacted by the program. Contact IDRA for more information or see the program website.