Everyone had that one teacher from their childhood who taught them more than just the basics, be it in math, science, English or history. You know, the one who inspired the kids in their classroom and opened their eyes to a world of possibilities. For Christin Gilmer, that teacher was Judith Toensing, her sixth grade teacher who she says started her on her journey back in 1997.
Gilmer recently graduated with a doctorate degree from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and before the ceremony she made sure to send an invite to Toensing because of a small note the teacher wrote on her end-of-the-year report card back in '97. Take a look:
"It was a joy to have you in class," Toensing writes. "Keep up the good work! Invite me to your Harvard graduation."
Who would have thought that that one sentence, handwritten on a report card more than two decades ago, would be such a huge source of motivation for Gilmer? We're not crying, you're crying. "It meant a lot to me to know that outside my mom, someone who knew me so intimately believed in my dreams and my ability to accomplish them," Gilmer told CNN.
In a Facebook post written in April just after she successfully defended her dissertation, Gilmer said she still carries a picture of Toensing's note around with her and that it was Toensing who inspired her to go into public health in the first place. "[She] taught me about current events, global health, and human rights," Gilmer wrote in the post. "She was the first person who passionately conveyed the plight of people living with HIV/AIDS to me and started me on this journey."
When administrators at Harvard saw the note, they extended an official invite to Toensing, who still teaches in Gilmer's hometown in Arizona, flying her out to Boston for the convocation. On top of that, Gilmer surprised Toensing in her classroom when she came to hand-deliver the invitation. Isn't that the sweetest?
Check out this video of the sweet moment (but make sure to have some tissues nearby):
So here's to Toensing and all the other teachers out there inspiring their students and filling them with a love of learning. Those young minds you're shaping will soon shape the future, so thank you for all your hard work.