By Elise Tinseth ’16
Originally published in The Pioneer, Sept. 6, 2012. Reprinted with permission.
When Whitman junior Fernando Medina saw a need for tutors in the Walla Walla area, he knew he wanted to do something about it. This past summer he founded Valley Tutoring, a local business that employs Whitman students and graduates as tutors and seeks to help provide educational assistance to Walla Walla students from kindergarten- to college-age.
Medina utilized his interest in business to create a new way for qualified students and alumni to help the community. Though many students at Whitman are already involved in the community, Medina has a strong belief in helping whenever possible.
“I don’t think that there can ever be too many opportunities for us as students to get to know the place that we’re living in,” Medina said.
With the new business came obstacles that he didn’t anticipate, such as new technology and scheduling conflicts between his business and the timing of local public schools.
“Schools [are] currently not in session, which means that I can expect business to be slow and need to instead focus on building the foundations. It’s nerve-wracking, though, because I can’t test these foundations until business picks up,” said Medina.
Despite Medina’s knowledge of the business and marketing aspects such as advertising around campus and school, he still had to work hard to familiarize himself with some of the technology that came with the job.
“Because I also started out being unfamiliar with website design, I had to spend a lot of time learning how to use a content management system, HTML, CSS, and other aspects of building my own website,” Medina said.
Despite these challenges, Valley Tutoring will be open to assist students of any age, offering tutoring in most subjects from kindergarten through introductory college-level classes, with different hourly charges depending on the academic level of the students.
Given the breadth of subjects and the multitude of students that Valley Tutoring hopes to serve, Medina is looking for students that have been trained in SAT or ACT preparation and who also have strong references, social skills and a desire to help people learn.
“I am looking for these tutors to act as role models for the students they work with,” Medina said.
Cindy Chang is a junior biology major who will be working for Medina this year along with numerous other Whitman students and alumni.
“I was intrigued by the idea of Fernando starting his own company, and wanted to see what it would turn out like, so I decided to get involved,” Chang said. “I also love tutoring and working with kids, so I thought this would be a perfect fit.”
Currently, Medina is waiting for local schools in Walla Walla, such as Walla Walla High School, to open this Sept. 4 to get students to tutor.
“I have already started advertising at local schools and have met with some of the administrators there.” Medina said. “The ones that I have talked to are very excited about the program.”
Despite the challenges of starting a new business, Medina is optimistic about the future of the project.
“I think it will help Whitman connect with the greater Walla Walla community and have a positive impact,” he said.