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Lee Silva Ferguson ’95: Driven by Her Passion for Knowledge

For Lee Silva Ferguson ’95, most of her time is spent in the biology classroom at Allen High School where she teaches AP Biology in a flipped classroom (a form of blended learning in which students teach and share teaching time with instructors).

“I believe every student can learn,” says Ferguson. “Every kid might not leave my classroom a biologist, but every kid is going to be a problem solver.” She notes that Southwestern taught her to  “value the development of the whole person” and feels “fortunate to work where I can encourage my students to think in the same way.”

“My students are more than just kids driven by grades. I want them to be driven by a passion for knowledge, just like I was at Southwestern”

At Southwestern, Ferguson says she worked hard in the classroom but remembers her extracurricular time as a student leader the most. “Don’t get me wrong, the things I learned in all my biology classes, my political science classes, my history classes…I still use those things, but it’s the things I learned informally that still have an impact on me daily.” Nineteen years after her graduation, Ferguson encourages her students to pursue what they love and learn from it. “My students are more than just kids driven by grades. I want them to be driven by a passion for knowledge, just like I was at Southwestern,” she says.

Ferguson chose to attend Southwestern because Andrew Decker ’93, her campus tour guide, seemed to know everyone on campus. “Every person Andrew ran into on our tour, he knew. [I came] from a large high school and knowing everyone on campus was impossible. The fact that it was possible to know everyone and forge relationships with nearly everyone you met was powerful to me.”

She attended Southwestern on a Mary Gibbs Jones scholarship and says,“I firmly believe in the ‘pay it forward’ concept. Someone was generous enough to donate funds that enabled me to attend the University and I feel it is important to donate to the Southwestern Fund so that others can have the same opportunity that was afforded me more than 19 years ago. So, I have been a donor for 19 years.” Ferguson’s yearly commitment to Southwestern makes her a member of the Brown Society, a giving society that recognizes yearly gifts of any size to Southwestern. And, last summer, she joined the 1840 Society by including Southwestern University in her estate plans.

This past year, Ferguson’s post-Southwestern transformation continued when she lost 225 pounds (and counting) following bariatric surgery, all the while being encouraged by Southwestern classmates and friends via Facebook, telephone, text message, and at the gym. “The phrase Alma Mater means ‘soul’s home’ in Latin and SU is definitely that for me. Southwestern is home to me and always will be.”