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Valued Youth Partnership

Melina Martinez

Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program – 2014 Essay Contest

Winner: High School Third Place

View printable PDF version of this winning essay

Melina Martinez
9th grade, South San Antonio High School, San Antonio

What the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Did For Me

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program really is life changing. It has given me a different perspective on what I want to do with my life. I truly believe that getting the opportunity to be a tutor has been one great blessing.

Before I was introduced to the program, I was a girl who would walk the halls of my school and feel so small and invisible. I was struggling with my classes. I never took the opportunities to go to tutoring. I thought there were more important things to do. Thanks to the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program, my eyes have been open to all the advantages life has to offer. I now go to tutoring in the mornings to catch up on my school work. I now walk through the halls of my school with confidence and pride. One day, I hope that I will become someone in life. I feel not only did the Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program change my life, it has changed my tutees’ lives too. I see them improving their grades just like me. They’re not so timid to raise their hand to answer a question. They actually try to compete with each other on who can answer first. My tutees Adrian, Paula and Melanie* are very bright young students, and I am happy to have the privilege to work with them. Knowing that I am helping better someone’s future brings a warm feeling to my heart.

The Coca-Cola Valued Youth Program has given me the opportunity to turn my life around, and it’s an experience I will take with me for the rest of my life. Thank you!

*name changed for privacy


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