Tori Yates (1st Quarter, 2009)

by Josh Barsch on August 20, 2010

1st Quarter, 2009
Teacher Scholarship Winner
Tori Yates

A Portion of Tori’s Winning Essay:

Tori Yates

Teaching, to me, has nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with succeeding and perseverance. I want to be the type of teacher that relates to kids. I want to motivate them and make them realize their potential. I believe that laziness and an unwillingness to try, even when things are tough, are no excuse for giving up on life.

I have learned this through some pretty tough lesions in the last 2 years of my life. I feel that I have more life experience than most people out there my age. I am now only 21 and have lived through a lot of adversity.

Beginning my freshman year of college, I was only 17 when I moved four hundred miles to attend Oregon State. I know a lot of people move for the first time and have to adjust, and it is hard for all. I adjusted to college by doing what I always did in high school. I over-involved myself to keep myself busy. I joined Delta Gamma, a sorority on campus, signed up for Vet Med club, because at that time I was a pre-veterinary student. I also took a big load of classes of about 18 credits. I got a job as a nanny and working at the Oregon State Vet Clinic for over 20 hours a week.

I began to put all these things in front of my health, and by the end of my first term, I had developed a kidney infection from stress, so severe that I was hospitalized. I was in and out of school for a few weeks following trying to recover. I did not make a full recovery until about half way through spring term. My doctors told me I could continue that spring if I was under their watchful eye. I ended that year with the best grades I could get, and anticipated my return for fall of 2006 to start over.

My sophomore year did not prove to be any easier. While outside, I fell on some black ice and broke my ankle. I was placed in a non-weight bearing cast and was unable to get to class. About the middle of fall term, I was informed that two of my close friends were missing from my sorority from an outing I was supposed to attend, but did not due to my ankle.


My sorority sister and her boy friend were found 3 days later. They had died of a car accident and were found in the Willamette River. On that same day, I also found out that my uncle had died. I was so emotionally distraught and could not continue going to classes. I was informed that I was being kicked out of Oregon State due to my grades, and my inability to keep them up to OSU’s standards.  On Christmas Eve of that year, I received a call from the Corvallis fire department, stating that my apartment had burnt down. I was returning to school, with no where to live and no school. I opted to attend the local community college in Corvallis to continue on with my education, fighting and hoping to be re-instated to Oregon State.

When I got back to school, our apartment was okay enough to move back into, however not complete. Then my landlord started to harass my roommates and I, telling us that the fire was our fault, even though we had been gone for Christmas break for three weeks. He wanted us to pay for the damage that was well over fifteen thousand dollars. We proceeded to court to fight.

While visiting my Grandmother in Portland one weekend, January 26th, I decided to take her to dinner. While sitting at a stoplight, we were hit head on by an expedition that was going over seventy miles an hour at the time of impact. The only thing I remember from that accident was trying to wake my Grandmother and realizing she was not responsive. I thought I had killed her. I awoke the next day believing that she was dead. I was in such hysterics; I had no idea where I was and where my grandmother was. Although she did not die, and the accident was clearly not my fault, I carried unintentional guilt about the whole thing because she was fighting for her life.

Recovery was a long and difficult process for me, and it obviously prevented me from returning to class for a few weeks. I however, insisted that I go back to school and continue with class. I ended up passing out at my math mid-term (my 5th time taking that one class) and was rushed back to the hospital. Now not only was I in a legal battle with my landlord, I was in one with the 17 year old who was trying to impress his friends, and almost killed me and my Grandmother.

In the beginning of spring term, I went on vacation with my family to try and relax and forget about things for a few days. I returned home, and began to feel terrible. I went to the doctors where I was diagnosed with mononucleosis and streptococcus at the same time. I was out of commission for about 3 weeks for my contagiousness. As I was about to begin my fall term of my junior year, I was once again having a positive outlook because of my family standing behind me to get me through. I thought that my string of bad luck HAD to be over and it was my turn to shine. I was wrong yet again.

At the end of November, while in Portland visiting family for the weekend, I began to feel a terrible pain inside. I was yet AGAIN taken to the hospital to find out that I had a severe infection in my gall bladder and I needed emergency surgery to have it removed. I was hospitalized for a week in West Linn, Oregon, with what is typically an outpatient surgery. I then had 2 weeks of recovery because I ended up getting a staph infection in the incision site.

I want to be able to proudly tell my students my story and show them that I am living proof that no matter what happens, with a little effort, you can achieve the goals you set out to do. I also want to be the teacher that makes class, history class in particular, interesting and show them the value of it all. I know I have gone into classes before and thought to myself, what is the purpose of this class?? I also know that having a passionate teacher helps you become passionate about the subject they are throwing in your face. I will do my best, no matter how long it takes to make sure that I help many children realize and get their goals going in their favor.

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