An elementary school in Texas, United States will be named after Indian-American Sonal Bhucher to honour the trailblazer and so that her legacy in education and philanthropy continues for generations to come, according to a statement.
The Fort Bend Independent School District (FBISD) Board of Trustees unanimously approved naming upcoming elementary school 53, after Sonal, who died 2019 at the age of 58 due to cancer complications. The school will open in January 2023 in the Riverstone community.
Originally from Mumbai in India, Sonal was a professional physiotherapist and had her bachelor's degree in physical therapy from Bombay University. She immigrated to Houston in 1984 with her husband, Subodh Bhuchar.
Sonal, a popular community activist and a leader, who always cared about the community, was elected to the Fort Bend ISD Board of Trustees for six years and served as the Board President for two years.
In 2015 Texas Governor Greg Abbot appointed Sonal to the One Star National Service Commission Board, that promotes volunteerism and oversees administration of the AmeriCorps programmes in the US state of Texas.
While on the FBISD board, Sonal led several district initiatives, including the Student Leadership Programme, the Legislative Advocacy Programme, the Fort Bend Education Foundation’s Annual International Festival, WATCH—a lifestyle education programme—and scholarship opportunities.
Several current board members spoke highly about how Sonal encouraged them to serve the community.
Trustee Jim Rice sat on the school board alongside Bhuchar for two years.
“The first year she was my mentor, and I came to know her very well,” Rice said. “She was a lady who worked very hard in our community to help build bridges of understanding between our very diverse community.”
Trustee Grayle James ran for the Sonal's school board seat when she decided to not seek re-election in 2012.
“While I did not sit on the school board with Sonal, I did try to sit in the seat and fill the shoes that she left here,” James said. “She supported me as I learned my role on the school board. I'm so grateful and proud that we'll be able to name an elementary school for her.”
Thrilled about this recognition, Dr. Subodh, Sonal's spouse; a reputed physician and a community leader told PTI that, "The current Fort Bend citizens and FBISD board of Trustees recognised Sonal's phenomenal service to the county by unanimously voting for an elementary school in her honour, so that her legacy in education and philanthropy continues for generations to come".
"Sonal was a quiet but effective warrior, who weaved a path for generations of young women and men to follow. She led by example and showed them that their way to succeed in life is to give, without expecting anything in return. She ensured that her actions would lead to changes that would benefit all", Dr. Subodh said.
Shefali Jhaver, a local resident and friend of Sonal, sharing the news of schools approval by FBISD said "I am thrilled that her spirit and legacy will carry on for generations to come through a school where she lived, raised her family and inspired us all. She was a shining member of our community here.
"It is a great honour for all first generation immigrants. Sonal, who was taken from us much too soon, always cared deeply about our community, and I couldn’t be happier about this decision," said Usha Ganju, a close friend of the family.
Sonal, until her passing, was actively involved on the board of many nonprofit and local organisations, including Child Advocates of Fort Bend, the Literacy Council of Fort Bend, AccessHealth, Sugar Land Cultural Arts Foundation and the Texas Medical Association Alliance, among others.
(With inputs from PTI)
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