Teachers make lasting contributions in students’ lives. They encourage, they are patient and above all, they are willing to go the extra mile to help. Their impact is hard to quantify, but it is evident in many people’s lives.

In her final year of graduate school, Kathy Meier-Hellstern, AVP at AT&T Labs, was working on her thesis at the University of Delaware. She wanted input from her professor, but he was leaving the country to go on sabbatical. Kathy took a wild chance and asked to accompany him so that he could provide feedback in real time. Kathy was pleasantly surprised when he answered, “Sure!”

Along with her professor, Kathy spent six months at the University of Stuttgart in Germany and another six months at Technion in Israel. All the while, her professor was accommodating and willing to give his time to Kathy and her endeavor. It was in Germany where Kathy met her future husband. If her professor hadn’t allowed her to tag along, she may not have ever met him.

Before the sabbatical, Kathy’s professor also took her and others on trips to conferences across the country. In fact, he would often show up at a major conference with six graduate students in tow.

In the process, the students created their professional networks. The trips spurred Kathy’s enthusiasm for exploring and she stills bumps into some of the colleagues she met as a graduate student.

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Today, and every day, we should thank our teachers, professors and mentors who have played a role in our development and success in life.