After Teacher Wrote 'Invite Me to Your Harvard Graduation' More Than 2 Decades Ago, Student Did So

Toensing, Gilmer, and her mother
Toensing, Gilmer, and her mother (photo credit: Christine Gilmer)

She said the teacher inspired her career.

An Arizona teacher didn’t know a note to one of her sixth-grade students, more than two decades ago, would one day come full circle.

Christine Gilmer, 33, said her middle school teacher, Judith Toensing, inspired her and opened her mind to world issues.

At the end of the 1997 school year, Toesing wrote on Gilmer’s report card, “Invite me to your Harvard graduation," and wished her the best of luck.

Courtesy: Christin Gilmer

“I was in sixth grade and got to learn a lot about the world,” Gilmer told “She taught me about HIV and how different health issues have impacted people based on their geography.”

That knowledge would later inspire Gilmer to pursue an education in public health.

After receiving her master’s degree from Columbia University, Gilmer began working toward her doctorate at Harvard University.

As Gilmer’s 2018 graduation approached, she thanked the people who contributed to her success, including Toensing, in a letter on her Facebook page.

Gilmer even personally delivered an invite to Toensing for the special day.

Harvard school administrators took notice and decided to fly Toensing out for the 2018 Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health's convocation. They also honored the teacher at the ceremony.

“I don’t think she knew how much she impacted my views of the world,” Gilmer said. “It was really humbling. I was so grateful I was given the opportunity to thank her.”