Education Wednesday Thanksgiving Edition : 2 Thank You Letters to the Mentors and Teachers Who Changed My Life

Thanksgiving is the time to show gratitude for the blessings in your life. As I think back on many wonderful educational experiences, I want to honor the mentors and educators who changed the course of my life.


While many people played significant roles in my education, two stand out. In high school I worked hard to maintain good grades, but I was unsure of how to make college happen. Mrs. Ferguson, my high school counselor, was determined to help me make it to my dream school Howard University--and she did.

Later as a sophomore at Howard University I took Dr. Sandridge’s Leadership course because he had a reputation for setting the bar high for his students. In accepting the challenge he set through rigorous reading assignments and detailed exams, I blossomed as a student and found direction as a leader.

This Education Wednesday I am sharing my thanks to Mrs. Ferguson and Dr. Sandridge who, like countless other educators, deserve so much praise:

2 Thank You Letters to Educators Who Changed Aundrea’s Life

Dear Mrs. Ferguson:

I now speak often about the importance of mentorship because of the meaningful support you gave me as a high school senior. You understood that the transition from high school to college can be difficult, especially for a first generation college student. Yet you never let me use this as an excuse. You took interest in my dreams to attend college and you provided guidance for making it a reality. As a college graduate yourself, saying “If I can do it, you can do it too” motivated me to complete my application. The stories you shared about attending school “back in the day” helped me define the importance of college and made for great laughs. You made it clear that if I also worked hard I could share in this rich tradition.

My High School Self needed to see someone who attended college and entered a thriving career. I needed to see someone who had “made it” show concern to help other young people reach success as well. I now know it is my duty to encourage those who come after me to embrace their full potential and recognize the value of being an educated person of color.

Thank you for all the small words of encouragement which had such a huge impact on my life.

Dear Dr. Sandridge:

You taught me that accepting rigorous challenges is what sets good leaders apart from others. No one’s exams were more difficult than yours. Yet this only made me work harder to excel in your course. I began to see that your words were true:

“Grand visions require great efforts."

In addition to studying ancient leaders such as Cyrus The Great, you taught me how strong character is vital to success in life. By the end of your class I was a stronger student and I had found the confidence to be the leader you knew I could be.

My College Self needed the motivation you provided to pursue harder challenges. I needed someone who would never let me settle for anything less than perfection. I now know that to be great you have to work outside of your comfort zone and maintain a love of learning. I carry these lessons through my career as I constantly work to hone new skills and motivate others. Now when I speak about leadership I will know it was your support that gave me a start.

I thank you being one of the best professors I ever had.

College graduation

The excellent mentors and teachers who brighten the lives of our students deserve gratitude and thanks. My mentors' lessons and support helped me make college a reality and embrace my potential as a student and emerging leader. When I "lean in" to achieve new goals or inspire young people who are in the place I once stood, I am "leaning on" their wisdom. That's why this Thanksgiving reflection honors and thanks these educators, mentors, parents, and friends who give me so much and always encourage me to succeed.

Aundrea_Gregg-TheWiseLatinaClubAn education policy wonk at the Georgia Center of Opportunity, Aundrea Gregg holds a Master’s degree in Social Policy and Planning from the London School Of Economics and a Bachelor’s in Classical Civilizations and Political Science from Howard University. She also is a nail painting enthusiast and writer living in Atlanta, GA. Connect with Aundrea on Twitter or Google+.

Edited by: Viviana Hurtado, Ph.D.

Show thanks to your favorite educator here!