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This teacher's thank-you letter to her students went viral because we all needed it.

'I want you to know I'm rooting for you from the sidelines, silently cheering you on, even if it's a decade from now.'

This teacher's thank-you letter to her students went viral because we all needed it.

At the end of the creative marketing course Jessica Langer was teaching at Ryerson University in Toronto, she wanted to find a special way to say thank you to her students.

"I've had really great students in the past, but I don't know that I've ever had a group that's so big [about 90] and yet so uniformly great," writes Langer in an email, explaining that her students are "rightfully anxious about the future."

"The creative industries are changing so rapidly," she explains. "It's hard enough to graduate into a field that's stable: to graduate into an industry that's going through such change is anxiety-making. I wanted to give them some reassurance."


She decided to send her students a heartfelt letter, imparting one final lesson.

Image via Jessica Langer, used with permission.

Her e-mail is an honest depiction of the obstacles and challenges she knows her students will face in the real world.

And not just in their chosen field of marketing either. More than 4 out of 5 students graduate college without a job lined up according to The Washington Post. In 2014, the overall unemployment rate for people under 25 in the United States was 14.5% — more than twice the national average at that time.

Langer concludes the letter by offering a perspective on success and failure that reminds her students not to define themselves by their obstacles or setbacks by writing (emphasis added):

"These things happen to everyone. They are not a reflection of who you are: they are a reflection of the circumstances, usually outside your control. And if you have a setback, please don't give up. I want you to know I'm rooting for you from the sidelines, silently cheering you on, even if it's a decade from now."

In response, Langer's students flooded her inbox with gratitude. One student named Blayne Stone, who had been rather quiet in class, sent her an email that said he would carry the lessons he learned from her with him his whole life. Another wrote a letter to Langer's department asking they keep her on at Ryerson.

One of Langer's students was so moved by the letter that she posted it to Twitter, where it quickly went viral.

Langer's message about personal value resonated far and wide beyond the doors of her classroom. It was a message many people needed to hear.

Being an adult means having successes and failures. In those moments, Langer wants her students — and anyone who reads her letter — to remember that work is not the end-all-be-all of their value as a person.

When there are setbacks, it's important to remind yourself that there are people in your corner you can call upon to give you strength. Perhaps that's why Langer's thank you resonated with so many people; her sentiments represent every teacher and mentor who inspire us to keep pushing forward, even during our darkest hours.

Her letter's conclusion says it all (emphasis added):

"Success looks different on different people, and your success will look different than your friends'. Each of you also has different strengths, and different challenges. That's also okay. Each and every one of you is valuable.

You matter. To me, to your friends and family, and to the world."

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Macy's and Girls Inc. believe that all girls deserve to be safe, supported, and valued. However, racial disparities continue to exist for young people when it comes to education levels, employment, and opportunities for growth. Add to that the gender divide, and it's clear to see why it's important for girls of color to have access to mentors who can equip them with the tools needed to navigate gender, economic, and social barriers.

Anissa Rivera is one of those mentors. Rivera is a recent Program Manager at the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc., a nonprofit focusing on the holistic development of girls ages 5-18. The goal of the organization is to provide a safe space for girls to develop long-lasting mentoring relationships and build the skills, knowledge, and attitudes to thrive now and as adults.

Rivera spent years of her career working within the themes of self and community empowerment with young people — encouraging them to tap into their full potential. Her passion for youth development and female empowerment eventually led her to Girls Inc., where she served as an agent of positive change helping to inspire all girls to be strong, smart, and bold.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Inspiring young women from all backgrounds is why Macy's has continued to partner with Girls Inc. for the second year in a row. The partnership will support mentoring programming that offers girls career readiness, college preparation, financial literacy, and more. Last year, Macy's raised over $1.3M for Girls Inc. in support of this program along with their Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) programming for more than 26,000 girls. Studies show that girls who participated are more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, score higher on standardized math tests, and be more equipped for college and campus life.

Thanks to mentors like Rivera, girls across the country have the tools they need to excel in school and the confidence to change the world. With your help, we can give even more girls the opportunity to rise up. Throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases or donate online to support Girls Inc. at Macys.com/MacysGives.

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This is why Macy's has committed to partnering with Girls Inc. and making it easy to support their mission. In a national campaign running throughout September 2021, customers can round up their in-store purchases to the nearest dollar or donate online to support Girls Inc. and empower girls throughout the country.


Kaylin St. Victor, a senior at Brentwood High School in New York, is one of those girls. She became involved in the Long Island affiliate of Girls Inc. when she was in 9th grade, quickly becoming a role model for her peers.

Photo courtesy of Macy's

Within her first year in the organization, she bravely took on speaking opportunities and participated in several summer programs focused on advocacy, leadership, and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math). "The women that I met each have a story that inspires me to become a better person than I was yesterday," said St. Victor. She credits her time at Girls Inc. with making her stronger and more comfortable in her own skin — confidence that directly translates to high achievement in education and the workforce.

In 2020, Macy's helped raise $1.3 million in support of their STEM and college and career readiness programming for more than 26,000 girls. In fact, according to a recent study, Girls Inc. girls are significantly more likely than their peers to enjoy math and science, to be interested in STEM careers, and to perform better on standardized math tests.

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