Fort Bend Star Newspaper Shares Alyssa’s Story

The Fort Bend Star newspaper of Fort Bend County, TX shared Alyssa’s story about her cancer journey, her wish for water wells, the Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund, and the FBISD naming of a new elementary school.

The text of the article follows:

New FBISD elementary school to bear name of late student

  • By Matt deGrood, Fort Bend Star
  • Apr 19, 2022
Alyssa Ferguson
Alyssa Ferguson, pictured in an orange dress, is surrounded by her parents, Scott and Sandy, and sister Jenna. Contributed photo

Fort Bend County residents and leaders in the days since the school district announced its 54th elementary school would be named after Alyssa Ferguson shared remembrances that wouldn’t be out of place discussing famous figures from the county’s past.

But whereas many of the district’s other schools are named after former board members, educators or famous county figures, Alyssa Ferguson Elementary School’s namesake is a former student who left her mark on the district before her untimely death in 2017 from cancer.

“As a committee, we felt Alyssa’s life provides a great example to our students on how they can utilize the profile-of-a-graduate attributes in serving as compassionate citizens and servant leaders,” FBISD board President Dave Rosenthal said.

The board of trustees recently approved the school’s name at a board meeting. Alyssa Ferguson Elementary School is set to open in the fall of 2023 at 13000 Heritage Park Drive in Missouri City, near the Sienna neighborhood that Ferguson called home during her lifetime.

Ferguson, who died at age 15, also impressed scores of Fort Bend County leaders and residents when she opted to use her Make-A-Wish to help build a well for a village in Africa.

“It’s an honor,” said Sandy Ferguson, Alyssa’s mother. “It’s been five years since she passed, and to know she’s still remembered and had such an incredible heart is an incredible legacy. Every kid who walks through the doors of the school will have a chance to see what she has done and realize that, even as a kid, they can make a difference in the world, in their school and in their communities.”

The Ferguson family had only moved to Fort Bend County in August 2013, and Alyssa Ferguson enrolled at Baines Middle School in FBISD, her father, Scott Ferguson, shared with the Fort Bend Star last week.

From the beginning, Alyssa Ferguson was cut from a different cloth than many other students.

“She always had a heart for others,” Scott Ferguson said. “Even as a little kid, when we’d pass someone who was homeless, she’d always say, ‘We have an extra room, why can’t they just stay with us?’”

Alyssa Ferguson was diagnosed in January 2014 with medulloblastoma, a brain tumor with an 80 percent treatment success rate, Scott Ferguson said.

“We just never dreamed we’d be in that 20 percent,” he said. “You assume those 20 percent are those with additional medical issues.”

While doctors have a lot of success against the type of tumor, they only have one treatment for it, Scott Ferguson explained. If that doesn’t work, there aren’t many other options, he said.

Over coming months and years, Alyssa Ferguson’s life became a series of radiation treatments, doctors’ visits and surgeries, Scott Ferguson said.

But through it all, Alyssa Ferguson remained devoted to school and maintaining a positive attitude, he said.

“She became friends with all the other kids going through treatment,” he said. “There was one boy there from China who didn’t speak English. She didn’t speak his language, so she downloaded a language app and became friends with him. He came to the house for dinner one time.”

And even as more of her time became occupied with trips to doctors and trials in Boston and elsewhere, Alyssa Ferguson worked to keep up at school, her family said.

“She kept fighting and kept going to school the entire time,” Scott Ferguson said. “She made good grades, was in band and involved in church and her youth group. She stayed active all the way until she went into hospice.”

Some of Alyssa Ferguson’s actions during her battle with brain cancer left an indelible impression on elected leaders in Fort Bend County as well.

“I learned about this incredible young lady when I heard what Alyssa did with her wish from Make-A Wish Texas Gulf Coast and Louisiana,” former U.S. Rep. Pete Olson said.

Where many children use their make-a-wish to meet a favorite athlete or visit somewhere, Alyssa Ferguson opted to use hers to build a well in a village in Zimbabwe called Murehwa.

Alyssa Ferguson came up with the idea because, years earlier, she’d read a book called “A Long Walk to Water” by Linda Sue Park and decided this was her opportunity to help, Scott Ferguson said.

“Amazingly, she told Scott and Sandy that, ‘The only reason I got this wish is because I got sick. I should use it to help someone. I didn’t earn it,’” Olson said.

Alyssa Ferguson’s family held out hope that she would eventually recover and they would all take a visit to the village, they said. But the Fergusons ended up making the journey after Alyssa’s death, where they discovered what a difference the well made in the lives of the villagers, they said.

“It was just beautiful to see how water was changing the whole village,” Scott Ferguson said.

The population of the village has almost doubled in the years since, and more children have been able to attend school because the well sits next to a school, Scott Ferguson said. Before, they had to spend their days traversing to a water hole, but now can attend classes and fill jugs of water on their way home, he said.

To keep their daughter’s memory alive, the family has set up a foundation to continue building wells, Scott Ferguson said. The foundation is called the Alyssa Ferguson World-Changers Fund, and it has helped build eight wells and counting across the world, including ones in Myanmar, India, Haiti and South Sudan, Scott Ferguson said.

Now, the Fergusons hope that generations of students will have the opportunity to learn from their daughter’s example, they said.

And the Fort Bend County community was unanimous in agreeing the honor was well-deserved.

“For those of you that never knew Alyssa, I want you to know this is a beautiful recognition from Fort Bend Independent School District,” said Sugar Land Councilperson William Ferguson, who is not related to Alyssa.

The link to the original article can be found here.

New School Named After Alyssa

The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund is excited and grateful to announce that the Board of Trustees of Fort Bend Independent School District voted to name a new elementary school in Alyssa’s honor. Alyssa Ferguson Elementary will begin construction soon with plans to open in fall 2023.

Alyssa’s family shared that Alyssa wanted to become a third grade teacher and will now be able to teach children of all ages about being becoming World Changers in their own ways. They are overwhelmed with gratitude that the district and community have chosen to honor Alyssa in this way.

The press release follows:

FORT BEND ISD BOARD OF TRUSTEES APPROVES NAMING NEW ELEMENTARY SCHOOL AFTER LATE STUDENT

Fort Bend ISD (April 11, 2022) – The Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to name the District’s new elementary school #54 after Alyssa Ferguson, a Ridge Point High School student who lost her life to brain cancer.

Ferguson lived in the Sienna community. While enrolled at Baines Middle School she began experiencing a series of headaches. At the age of 12, she was diagnosed with medulloblastoma, a fast-growing brain tumor. Her family also learned she had Li-Fraumeni Syndrome, a rare genetic disorder that predisposes those who have it to an increased risk of developing cancer.

Even in the midst of her own cancer battle, Ferguson acted with amazing generosity and a spirit of giving. When she received a wish from the Make-a-Wish Foundation, she said, “The only reason I got this wish is because I got sick. I should use it to help someone. I didn’t earn it.”

Ferguson used her wish to dig a well in a village in Zimbabwe that did not have access to clean water. Eight wells have now been dug because of the mission she started.

Ferguson passed away in January of 2017 while a freshman at Ridge Point High School. The Alyssa Ferguson World Changers Fund was established so that her legacy continues through the funding of construction of new water wells and for the repair or replacement of existing wells.

Per board policy, FBISD established a committee to select a name for the new school earlier this year and asked the community to submit nominations. The committee was comprised of teachers, parents, community representatives, District staff, FBISD Board President Dave Rosenthal and FBISD Trustee Kristin Malone.

“As a committee, we felt Alyssa’s life provides a great example to our students on how they can utilize the Profile of a Graduate attributes in serving as compassionate citizens and servant leaders,” Rosenthal said. 

Alyssa Ferguson Elementary is located at 1300 Heritage Park Dr., Missouri City, 77459 and is scheduled to open fall 2023. The school will serve approximately 1,000 students.

The original press release is linked here.