Testimonial by Christopher Yee
Note: This unsolicited testimonial was originally written as an essay to accompany Christopher's college application. I'm pleased to report that Christopher has been accepted into Portland State University where he will be working on a degree in computer science.
When I was in third grade, I hated school and wanted to drop out. All of my quarter grades were Fs, I had been diagnosed with ADHD, and my mother was nervous. She forced me to go to a tutor but I resisted it and didn’t feel like he helped me in any way. I thought tutoring was boring and wasn’t motivated to do extra work, so when I found out I was going to yet another tutor, I wasn’t enthusiastic about it at all. I just wanted to stay home and play video games. But Jim, my new tutor, helped me change from being a student who wanted to drop out of school to a young man who wants to go to college and become an entrepreneur.
I call Jim my tutor but I don’t think of him that way. I just think of Jim as Jim and he is my mentor. Technically, Jim is a speech and language pathologist. That title doesn’t matter that much to either of us. What is important is the relationship between us. My previous experience with tutoring was just doing homework, filling out worksheets, and studying for tests. I didn’t expect that working with Jim would be any different. But, it turned out to be completely different. Jim always has a plan, but he is open to my input. Instead of being one more adult who tells me what to do, the two of us create our sessions together and decide collaboratively what to focus on.
When I first started going to Jim nine years ago, I noticed that he never judged me or pushed me too hard. He accepted me for who I was and worked with me based on what I already knew instead of assuming I should be doing better. He understood that my frustration was impacting my ability to focus on my school work.
Even though I didn't like school, I began to enjoy learning with Jim because he was very relaxed and cared about my interests. Over time, I started doing better in school, gained more confidence in myself, and even started enjoying some of my classes, especially computer programming.
I have always loved technology. When I was young, this only meant that I loved playing video games. Jim encouraged me to use my technology strengths and take on a leadership role in my school community during middle school. I became the Technology Commissioner, assisted teachers with their tech issues, and mentored other students. Once, Jim helped me write a letter to my history teacher requesting that my school purchase Minecraft EDU. My request was denied, but I knew there was one adult who supported my desire to learn by using technology.
Over time and with Jim’s support, I discovered that my innate strength with technology could help me in all of my classes and I've enjoyed my high school years much more than my K-8 years. Learning in high school has been technology-based, and I didn't find it difficult to adapt to online school during the coronavirus. The fact that we use technology instead of books improves my ability to understand what I am reading.
When I think back to myself as the kid who would have quit it if he were allowed to, I can hardly recognize this child as me. I wonder if I would have made it this far without Jim. He believed in me every step of the way.
I want to earn a college degree and be an entrepreneur in the field of technology. Jim has always had faith in me and believed that I would find my niche in the world, even when I did not yet have faith in myself. I now feel confident that I will become a successful entrepreneur and an adult who will give back to the community.