Her experience with Brooke has influenced her plans for the future.
"...To be a special education teacher or a physician of some sort or even an autism researcher," said Valdez.
A senior at Santiago High School, Valdez is involved in many activities. But, people see that she has unique qualities to be a great buddy.
"[She has] patience, number one, and compassion. And you can just see the love that she has for the kids and what she sees in them," said Diane Bry, an instructional assistant.
Being in the program can be challenging. For Valdez the reward is in seeing the progress Brooke has made during their time together.