Where Are They Now? Highlights of Fishers Island School Alumni
Amber Ferguson: Fishers Island Roots Run Deep
By Karen Loiselle Goodwin, Fishers Island School Superintendent/Principal
December 28, 2015
While our island may be small in size it can be huge in impact…case in point, Amber Ferguson. Amber is a lifelong resident and member of the Fishers Island School (FIS) Class of 2014. Many know Amber through her past summer roles as a nanny, a Briar Patch gardener, and a scooper/assistant manager at Toppers.
I had the pleasure of reconnecting with Amber on her holiday break as a full-time student at Trident Technical College in North Charleston, SC. She was eager to relay her experiences beyond Fishers, yet spontaneously spoke of the island’s ongoing influence on her decisions and the ways in which growing up in this community has shaped her. While she is “really happy” at college, she was thrilled to be home to visit family members, Jamie, Wayne and Lydia Doucette.
When I asked Amber if her FIS education prepared her for the rigors of post-secondary school education, she immediately responded with a resounding, “Yes…I learned how to be independent and take learning seriously here!” She elaborated that as a freshman science major, she earned all A’s in her first semester and as a result of her high academic performance, she was recently inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa International academic honor society. In response to my question about what drives her success, she stated, “my focus on my studies. You need to make sure that your education comes first…and for me it really does,” recanting how she recently turned down a movie invite to study for an upcoming test.
When describing her transition to life in North Charleston sixteen months ago, Amber laughed and shared that, “at first it was a big change. I would meet new friends and realize that I couldn’t walk or bike to their homes to see them.” She is thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to meet so many people, finding that folks in the south are really friendly and that, in contrast to the northeast, life is more slow-paced.
Outside of her program, Amber is busy as a college-level math tutor, proclaiming that she was hired for the position by earning a “99.76 average” in her freshman math class. She finds the job rewarding because “I’m able to help people who are struggling to learn” and feels that she has gained keen new insight to the joys and challenges of teaching. Amber also devotes time volunteering at a local animal shelter, caring for abandoned or abused pets and helping to get them adopted into loving families. She credits her folks and the Fishers Island School and community with her strong ethic to give back.
Fishers Island has also influenced Amber’s career path, as she recently narrowed her science major to the field of horticulture. Smiling broadly, she shared that her work last summer on a Race Rock garden crew greatly impacted her decision. “I loved that job!” she stated. “It was so interesting to work with the crew and learn about the different plants and landscaping. I realized then that it should be my future career as it combines my love of nature, being outdoors, and my artistic talents.” She describes her new major as “condensed and intense” but is thriving on the challenge. She shared that the program’s small cohort and its enthusiastic instructors who really get to know their students are similar to “what I experienced at Fishers Island School.”
Amber looks forward to returning to Race Rock this summer to share her new knowledge of woody ornamentals and greenhouse operations, as well as continuing to learn from Dave Burnham and his team. Although she does not yet know where she will land after college, she hinted at a possibility by discussing the advantages of the longer growing season in the south. “Don’t worry though,” she confided, “wherever I am I will always have my bond with Fishers.”