Judith Toensing has been inspiring young people to believe in themselves for more than 22 years as a public school teacher in Yuma, Arizona. Twenty-one years ago, she had Christin Gilmer as a student in her class. The inspiring young student wrote a 100-page paper on how to make public health better in Gilmer after interviewing many city officials. At the end of the year, Mrs. Toensing wrote that she wanted to be invited to Gilmer’s Harvard University graduation. When the 33-year-old got her Harvard diploma as a Doctor in Public Health, Toensing was proud to be in the audience.
Gilmer says that while it took her a long time to achieve her goal, she always remembered that Mrs. Toensing was the first person outside of her mother to encourage her to study hard and be successful. When Dean Michelle Williams heard the story she arranged for Mrs. Toensing to be in the audience, and she even introduced her during the graduation ceremony thanking her and all public school teachers for the difference that they make in the lives of students she later gets to work with on a daily basis.
While Mrs. Toensing is very proud of what Gilmer has been able to accomplish so far in her life, she encourages her to try to see how she can impact society in positive ways. She says that the future is very bright for this young graduate. Gilmer hopes to bring her knowledge home to Southern Arizona. She is currently looking for a position that will let her use her talents.