Harvard Graduate Surprises Teacher After 21 Years

By in Love Empowers, Love Letters

6th-grade Teacher Wrote ‘Invite Me To Your Harvard Graduation’ – 21 Years Later Student Did

Twenty-one years ago Christin Gilmer received a note from her teacher that changed her life. At the end of the school year in 1997, sixth-grade teacher Judith Toensing commented on Gilmer’s report card. It read: “It has been a joy to have you in class. Keep up the good work! Invite me to your Harvard graduation!.”

Gilmer kept the note and her promise. This past month she invited Toensing to her graduation at Harvard as a Doctor of Public Health.

L-R: Gilmer's Mom, Gilmer, Toensing / Credit: Christin Gilmer

While in sixth grade Toensing opened Gilmer’s eyes to the subjects of current events, global health, and human rights. One project the class had done involved them all creating a future recycling plan for their town in Yuma, Arizona. Toensing had inspired Gilmer into her career path of public health. When writing a thank you note on Facebook before her graduation, Gilmer cited Toensing as the first person to encourage her in the journey of getting a master’s degree. She carried that love with her over the past twenty-one years.

Although very proud, Toensing says she is not at all surprised by Gilmer’s accomplishments. She had seen the potential the sixth-grader possessed and comments she only expects greater achievements. The whole experience has been a huge motivation for her in becoming an even better teacher for her students.

Gilmer plans on returning to Arizona now that graduated. She wants to give back to her community by learning from the best institutions and bringing the knowledge to her town.

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