Photo of Yoltzin speaking and smiling at podium with blue wave and white text for Voices of Making Waves
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From 5th Grade to Senior Year: Preparing for College

by Yoltzin Wallace

Making Waves Education Foundation » Stories » From 5th Grade to Senior Year: Preparing for College

Voices of Making Waves: Meet Yoltzin Wallace 

The following is a speech by Yoltzin Wallace at the Ripples of Impact event in November 2023. 

My name is Yoltzin Wallace, and I’m a senior at Making Waves Academy, where I’ve been a student since I was in 5th grade. And that means I’ve been thinking about college since 5th grade!  
Now it’s hard to believe that college is just around the corner – it’s actually happening!

Eight years of community at Making Waves Academy

Thinking about the last eight years, Making Waves has been a special place for me.  

All of my best friends are people I’ve known since 5th grade. I know every single person in my grade. As a matter of fact, I know every single person at my high school. That’s a bonus of being at Making Waves: the community.  

I pass the same people in the halls every day, park in the same lot with the same friends, and take classes with the same teachers I’ve known for over four years now.

Yoltzin speaking at podium with room of people watching
Yoltzin speaking at the Ripples of Impact event.

Preparing for a celebratory senior year 

I’m also really proud of what I’ve accomplished. I’ve taken every advanced placement, or AP, class that’s been offered, and so far, I’ve kept straight A’s throughout my time in high school.

Additionally, I’m the vice president of the student government, known as the Associated Student Body, or ASB. As VP, it’s my job to promote school spirit and serve as a link between the students and administration. If my classmates have any concerns about our school, I’m proud to be able to help them. 

I’m most proud, though, of a club I started two years ago. When I was a sophomore, I realized that if we wanted to have a proper senior experience, we needed to get started early with fundraising! So, I started a club and recruited other like-minded people and hardworking students to help me.  

Together, our group of about a dozen or so seniors raised about $10,000 that we’ll put toward making this year extra special – like for graduation, our grad night celebration, and going to Disneyland for our senior trip. 

It’s been a blessing working with my group, and I know I’ll miss them after we leave this year, but I’m proud to say we’re accomplishing what we set out to do.

A special place for my family 

Making Waves has also been a special place for me, obviously, but for my family as well. My younger brother, Tlaloc, is a sophomore at Making Waves Academy. He’s also in student government with me. My older brother, Temoc, is at Boston University as a Posse scholar.  

My older brother, with the help of Making Waves Academy, showed me that anything is possible after I graduate. I’m not limited to community college or local universities. Instead, I can study and pursue my interests wherever I want. When I graduate, I hope to replicate the same message for my youngest brother.  

When I first started at Making Waves in 5th grade, one of our first assignments was to make a dream board. Colleges were all over my dream board – my parents always put school first for my brothers and me, and college was always the expectation. 
The support from both Making Waves Academy and from Making Waves Education Foundation’s college and career success program is helping make my path to college a reality. And now it’s happening!

Yoltzin standing at a table with his mom and Making Waves CEO
Yoltzin (center) talking with his mom (left) and Patrick O’Donnell, Making Waves Education Foundation CEO (right) at the Ripples of Impact event.

Ready for what the future holds 

I know I’m going to miss Making Waves. But I’m also excited about college and being somewhere new. Making Waves has grown my confidence so that I can be a leader, no matter what college I go to.  

Thanks to the support of my family and the Making Waves community, I feel ready. And no, I don’t have a dream school – my parents ask me every day! I’m keeping an open mind. 

Thank you for supporting Wave-Makers like me. 

This Voices of Making Waves storytelling series spotlights the voices and journeys of the students and alumni in our Making Waves Education Foundation and Making Waves Academy communities.


At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.