Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2015 Essay Contest
Winner: Middle School Third Place
View printable PDF version of this winning essay
8th Grade, Captain Manuel Rivera, Jr. PS/MS279, New York City
Since I became a tutor in the Coca Cola Valued Youth Program, it has made me a better student for a variety of reasons. I have also learned what it takes to be a leader as well as life skills, like active listening, planning and self-discipline.
Active listening involves listening with all your senses. It also means giving your full attention to others, for example my tutees. This is a skill that I apply during every tutoring session. Being a tutor is not easy because first graders still need a lot of attention and patience. They move around a lot, cry and sometimes need a lot of help and assistance because they’re impatient.
Even though tutoring is a required part of the program, it has become something that I really love to do. It is interesting when you can convey thoughts to others by using both verbal and non-verbal messages. This includes maintaining eye contact, nodding the head and smiling and agreeing by saying “yes” or a simple “mm hmm” to encourage my tutees to continue.
Planning – a thinking skill – helps a tutor develop strategies to accomplish tasks. For example, every day as a tutor you have to teach your tutees the process of establishing a goal, as well as creating and following through on a plan in order to accomplish that goal.
Lastly, the program has made me a better student because it has taught me self-discipline and self-directed learning. This skill means a lot because it is very challenging but necessary in many different aspects of life.
In conclusion, I think being able to participate in the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has made me a better student for the reasons shown and also has taught me that the future comes from the actions and choices you choose now. I think this program, including the tutees I’ve had the pleasure of working with, has motivated me to be someone special in life.
I want to thank the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program and Ms. Coyle for supporting me and motivating me to do better and succeed in life, and special thanks to Dr. Avilés who told me these words “You’re the best.” I will carry these words with me for the rest of my life, no matter how difficult the challenges.