Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Envy Davis

Name: Rose Gedeon
From: Brooklyn, NEW YORK
Grade: 12
School: Benjamin Banneker Academy
Votes: 0

Rose Gedeon

Youth Forward Scholarship 2016

I can’t do it. This is too hard”, Envy huffed as she tossed her
No.2 Pencil across the table. “Ayden just went through fifty
different worksheets and it’s taking me years to just finish this
one problem”, she exclaimed defeated. “That’s because you’re
not focusing. All you’re doing is making jokes and playing around.
How are you supposed to do well when you’re not putting in any
effort?” I said with frustration. When I said this, I witnessed all
of Envy Davis’ energy and spirit swiftly evacuating her body,
leaving her an empty corpse. “I’m trying”, Envy groaned, “I
just hate math”. I became so frustrated with her, her complaints,
her attitude, and her extreme lack of self-confidence that I gave up
and I did not help tutor her for the rest of our session. I simply
gave up on Envy Davis for the simple fact that she gave up on math.

When I reached home that day, I suddenly began to understand her animosity
and annoyance towards the subject I loved so much, as it connected to
my frustrations with tutoring her. My job was not only to tutor Envy
in math, but my job was to also motivate her and increase her
confidence and love for the subject. And unfortunately, I had failed
her in both aspects. Envy had stuffed the idea in her head that she
would never excel in math and that was what was holding her back.
Similarly, I had forced the idea in my head that she was practically
unteachable and this was hindering my ability to tutor her
efficiently. I wanted Envy to adore and cherish math the way I did,
instead of giving her tired and outdated excuse of “I can’t”.
And this was the goal I set for myself as I came in the next day to
tutor her.

I’m sorry about yesterday”, I apologized, “I shouldn’t have gotten
upset like that, but today is going to be better. I promise”. Envy
smiled at me as she took out her folder and her pencil preparing
herself for a better day. “It’s okay. I’m going to try to focus
today. I promise you that, but I can’t promise that I won’t joke
around”, she laughed.

Tutoring Envy, and tutoring in general, had been a challenge for me,
especially because of my lack of patience. I was easily patient and
understanding when it came to me, such as when I learned new
material. However, with others, my patience often ran thin. I
believed that if I understood a topic, another individual should
understand it just as well. But, this is not the case, especially not
for a 5th grader who incessantly notifies herself that she just
“can’t”. This negative attitude Envy possessed often
transferred to me and made me believe that I could not teach her.
Nonetheless, I saw both our faults and fought Envy’s negativity
with positivity. Slowly, but surely, every “I can’t” was
crushed and rebuilt with “I can”.

Through tutoring, I learned the value of altruism, commitment, and
responsibility. I was able to dedicate two to three hours, four days
a week for six months to help students improve their math skills. I
formed a strong and unique relationship with Envy, which taught me
how to care for others, how to be a role model for others, and how to
put myself in another person’s shoes. Additionally, I learned and
embodied the lesson of patience as well as perseverance. Repeatedly,
I would have to remind Envy to focus, to read the problem, to change
the denominator of the fraction before adding, to simplify her
answers, to study her times tables, and to check her answer. And
gradually, I witnessed the change in her math skills as well as her
attitude during our session. It took months for Envy to gain the
self-confidence and positive mindset toward math and those
exhausting, arduous months were all worth it. To see Envy finally
enjoying and appreciating math made me more proud than to see her
test scores increasing and to see the 3 she worked hard for on her
state exams.

Looking back at a larger point of view, Envy’s attitude towards math was
due to the poor circumstances in her school. Envy’s class was so
overcrowded that she was unable to fully absorb the information and
receive the extra help she needed from her teacher. This is a clear
reflection of the lack of opportunities available to inner city
students and how it can ruin their educational experience. But
looking forward, due to this experience as a tutor, it further
encouraged me to become a physician that is able to provide my
services to children, who similar to Envy, lack the opportunities and

Through volunteer activities such as this one, I hope to see a world with
equal opportunities for all students where they feel confident enough
to get through anything. And I believe if I come back to check up on
Envy twenty or thirty years from now, I’m sure I would find her
successfully battling all of her challenges (although they’d be
more serious than math). I know that Envy will have an abundance of
self-confidence, maturity, and persistence while still being that
bubbly and funny girl I grew to love.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".