I recently came across an important letter; a correspondence mailed thirteen years ago to someone so important and influential in my life. In this day of social media, emails, and mediated connections, we get so focused on the quick fix of instant and symmetric communication. With this correspondence, I am reminded of the value of the good old fashioned letter sent through the post office as opposed to fiber optics and satellites.
A few years ago an inspiring figure in my life, Faye Edwards, passed away unexpectedly in her home in Meridian, MS. While Faye has no children or living immediate family, she was one of those people who found the role of teacher, friend, aunt, godmother, and loving mentor to so many in her community. Miss E. was my Honors English teacher during my sophomore and senior years of high school–but she was much more than this. Under her inspiration and guidance, I found confidence and my voice in writing–a task that once brought tears of dread into writing any major essay or paper.
Just after she passed away a friend of the family was going through some of Miss E’s belongings and came across a letter signed by the president of Emerson College on October 17, 1996. This letter was so precious to my beloved teacher that she had it professionally mounted and framed.
In October of 1996, I was a transfer student enjoying my first month at Emerson College in Boston. I was new to the “big city,” and a young woman taking a huge risk and following her heart (Miss E, by the way, is rolling in her grave at my use of SO MANY cliches in one sentence. Sorry, Miss E!). I was scared, excited, and probably never more grateful for the family and friends who encouraged me along my intellectual and enlightening path. During this first month of school, I must have filled out some survey and identified Faye Edwards as a mentor in my life.
Letter to Faye Edwards dated: October 17, 1996
Dear Ms. Edwards:
As you probably know, your student, Mary Ann Cicala, was recently accepted into Emerson College and has begun the fall semester. In the midst of what can often be a hectic period of adjustment, Mary Ann has taken time to identify you as an important influence in her educational experience.
Therefore, on behalf of the Emerson College community, I would like to commend you for your contributions to Mary Ann’s academic and personal development. This milestone in one’s education is rarely achieved alone, and I join Mary Ann in thanking you for helping to provide the intellectual environment which has supported her success.
Congratulations on your student’s achievement–and best wishes on you future educational endeavors.
I am so deeply grateful for this letter that was mailed just over thirteen years ago and that the president of my college recognized such an important figure in my life. It serves as a valuable reminder that a simple correspondence like this can touch one person’s life and then tangentially touch so many others. I am going to have this letter mounted in my office as a reminder that the smallest deeds can have a ripple affect.