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Spreading gratitude: CyThx to deliver more than 1,400 messages of appreciation

Courtesy of Lindsay Gustafson

Members of the Iowa State community are invited to give a shoutout to someone who has positively impacted them by participating in Iowa State’s CyThx campaign. 

CyThx is a campaign that delivers an anonymous message of gratitude to members of the Iowa State community via an online survey available to all students, faculty and staff. Submissions opened Nov. 1 and will close Thursday at 11:59 p.m.

CyThx delivered more than 800 messages in 2022. This year, the campaign has received more than 1,400 submissions, according to Lindsay Gustafson, a CELT communications specialist. 

Gustafson said CyThx embodies the meaning of community. Some of the submissions are sent between friends, but many messages are also exchanged between areas of campus that are not directly connected. 

“A lot of times it’s somebody in one department thanking somebody in a completely different realm of the university. It’s really cool to see how it links everybody together,” Gustafson said.  

When making a submission, senders can choose to send a pre-written message that will notify the honoree that they have received a CyThx or they can write their own personal message. Senders can also choose to keep their shoutout private or allow it to be published on a list of all the publicly shared CyThx messages. 

Each submission is completely anonymous unless the sender chooses to sign their name in a personally written message. 

Kara Albrecht, a senior studying industrial engineering and a peer mentor for an engineering learning community, received a CyThx message in 2022 from one of her mentees. 

“It was my first time being a peer mentor for this learning community…and it was cool to see that the effort I put in was appreciated and actually helped them. I think I cried when I read it,” Albrecht said. 

Albrecht said her CyThx message was extremely impactful. Even though she could get a higher-paying job somewhere else, it helped her remember that her role as a peer mentor is worth it. 

Gloria Betcher, an English professor and coordinator for diversity, equity and inclusion in the department of English, has also received CyThx messages and has sent a few of her own. 

“Teaching at Iowa State can be kind of thankless these days,” Betcher said. “It’s very hard for students, it’s very hard for faculty and it’s very hard for staff, and I think CyThx acknowledges that. We all deserved to be thanked for something.” 

She has known about CyThx for a few years but decided to take a more active approach this semester. 

Betcher is offering extra credit to several of her classes for any students who send a CyThx message and present a screenshot of their submission. Each CyThx submission is equal to one point of extra credit, for a maximum of 10 extra credit points. 

“I’ve enjoyed seeing who’s being thanked and seeing some colleagues of mine that I know are great instructors who are getting thanks,” Betcher said. “It’s been fun to see who is being thanked, and I hope that they feel appreciated. I suspect they will like it a lot.” 

Betcher said the city of Ames and Iowa State University have partnered in community conversations on mental health. While attending one of these sessions, she learned that gratitude is a way to build resilience. 

“Anything that we can do to help build up that resilience is going to help you carry through the bad times. So, this is a small way to do something nice for someone else and to also make yourself feel good because you appreciated someone and became more resilient,” Betcher said. 

Each CyThx message will be emailed to their honorees after the fall semester grade submission. Additional information, including the CyThx submission survey, can be found on the Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching website.

“If we can appreciate each other more, I think we’ll all be happier, so why not do it?” Betcher said. 

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