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  • Lauren Brill shared a letter in the Group logo of To the people we loveTo the people we love group 2 weeks ago

    To my ninth-grade guidance counselor at Suffern High School

    To my ninth-grade guidance counselor,

    We met when I was 13 years old, a young freshman at Suffern High School. You were assigned to be my guidance counselor because my last name started with a “B.” The truth is, I don’t remember much about our interactions. Embarrassingly, I am not even sure of your name (I think your last name started with the letter “B”). However, there is one instance I do remember, and I want you to know why it has echoed in my brain for the last two decades.

    In my first year of high school, English was the only subject I did not get selected for the honors class. Ambitious and competitive, I thought getting an “A” in the standard English class would secure me a spot in the honors class my sophomore year. But unfortunately, once again, I was not recommended. Disappointed, I came to you and filed paperwork to petition my teacher’s decision. A few weeks later, you informed me that the school decided to allow me to take honors English. And you were the main reason why.

    You explained that usually when a teacher does not recommend a student for an honors class, you do not place them there. You always wanted to ensure students were in environments where they could succeed. However, you felt I was different. You told me you wrote a strong recommendation, explaining that I was a special student. You said I was the type of person that thrives on challenges, and you believed if the school gave me a challenge, I would not only meet it, but also surpass all expectations.

    I had zero clue what I did or said to give you that impression. But I didn’t question you. I took that compliment and ran with it. In my sophomore year, I worked my butt off in English class, asking my teacher many questions, spending extra time on papers, and (for the first time in my life) completing all the reading assignments. I didn’t want to let you down. I wanted to prove that you were right. Sure enough, I received an “A” in honors English that year.

    However, your compliment stayed with me long after the school year ended. For the last two decades, every time I have faced a challenge in school or my career, your words have echoed in my head. When I got into an Ivy League college and was unsure if I was smart enough to go, I thought of what you said about me. When I got a job as a television anchor, with little to no anchoring experience, I thought about your faith in me. When I decided to start a business with no real seed money, I once again heard your words reverberate inside my head.

    That one compliment has added fuel to my fearless personality, as I have pursued all of my dreams. And ironically, since that sophomore-year English class, writing has been the foundation for most of my achievements.

    After college, I became the youngest and only female writer for NBA.com. For ten years, I worked as a television sportscaster, receiving seven Emmy nominations and an AP Sports Award for my ability to write and tell a story. Three years ago, I started my own company called The Unsealed. We are a platform where we help people write and share open letters that empower, inspire and encourage equality. From People to ESPN to TMZ, nearly every major news outlet in the country has picked up one of our stories. We are nearing a million hits worldwide. More importantly, we’ve helped countless people in myriad ways.

    Twenty-two years ago, you told my naysayers you believed I would surpass their expectations in English class that year. However, because of you and that one compliment, I have and will continue to exceed my own expectations in life.

    While I may not remember your name, I will forever remember your impact.

    Thank you,

    Lauren Brill
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