A Professor's Unexpectedly Heartfelt Email To Her Students Is Going Deservedly Viral

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

At the end of this past school semester, students who took the Marketing in the Creative Industries course at Ryerson University in Toronto received an email from their professor, Jessica Langer. But it was no generic goodbye email from a professor. The note from Langer, who will leave for a full-time teaching position at Centennial College, was a personal, heartfelt goodbye that, according to one student, brought tears to her eyes.

Her email, tweeted out by a fourth-year Ryerson student who wished to stay anonymous, reminded students that it's OK to find some things challenging, that's it's OK to fail and have setbacks. 

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



Twitter.com
Twitter.com

The student told A Plus that she was feeling stressed out about school and graduation, and being told that "school is important, but isn't everything" helped ease her nerves. Which was exactly Langer's intention. Writing to A Plus, Langer, whom the student described as a "positive and upbeat professor," had high praise for this group of students.

"I have never taught a group as uniformly amazing as this one: every single one of these young people is totally brilliant," she said. "And they're also anxious, and rightfully so, because the creative industries are capricious at the best of times and they're going to have setbacks no matter what. I wanted to prepare them for that and to help them understand that it's a normal part of a creative career and that they're amazing regardless of what happens."

To some extent, Langer's advice stemmed from her own experiences dealing with challenges. "I've learned to think of setbacks and failures as opportunities to reorient and reinvent my approach to the world," she said. "These have been hard-won lessons for me and I thought that maybe I could make things easier for them than they'd been for me. I suppose, in a sense, I was writing the email in part to my younger self: it was what I wish someone had told me at their age."

The student's tweet has been shared nearly 2,000 times, as well as flooded by a slew of positive comments. The response to the email beyond the classroom was unexpected, the student said.

But based on how Langer's own students reacted to it, it wasn't 100 percent surprising. Langer's other students have written back to thank her; many of them mentioned how "they needed someone they trusted to tell them they mattered — but also that it's okay to have weaknesses as well as strengths." 

One student even wrote to Langer's department chair at Ryerson urging him to keep her on, which Langer said was "very sweet, but my move to Centennial was a done deal at that point."

Ultimately, Langer said she wants her students to know their worth. "In the classroom, I often preface the most important point of each class session with, 'if you remember one thing from this, it should be [whatever I want them to know],'" she said. "If my students — and anyone else reading the email –—remembers one thing, it should be that their value is not dependent upon anything external to them, like success or money or fame or recognition: they are each inherently valuable. Each one of them matters."

(H/T: BuzzFeed News)

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Cover image via Jon Bilous.



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