Professor Zenaida is one of those people you learn to love in the first class, the first talk, or the first interview. I had that privilege this morning, the same day that the university community said goodbye to her work duties to give way to her life as a retiree.
Las Tunas, Cuba.- Fifty years of work link Doctor of Sciences Zenaida Ávila Pérez to Higher Education, not only as a professor but also as dean of the Faculty of Early Childhood Education for 14 consecutive school years and as rector of the Pepito Tey Pedagogical University, in the first decade of 2000.
"I graduated in Spanish and Literature; however, I have worked more in the psycho-pedagogical area, specifically, in Pedagogy. I did a Master's degree in Educational Sciences at the former Lenin University and, later, a Doctorate in Pedagogical Sciences."
From your 50 years of work, what experience do you remember with the greatest satisfaction?
"While at the Faculty of Early Childhood Education, I was the director of a qualification course that was oriented to respond to the need for primary school teachers in Las Tunas and the country, in general. They were six intense months here at the pedagogical school. We had young people coming from the pre-university and our students from different education majors. Together with a group of professionals, we worked hard and managed to get them to join Primary Education as teachers and that helped the province considerably. Afterward, this course continued for three or four more years. This is a task that I remember with much love and affection."
In 2010 Zenaida retired for the first time due to her age; however, she decided to rejoin the educational institution that same year.
"After my reinstatement, I began to work in the preparation of cadres, but I continued to teach in the Biology major. I also worked on a Leadership Course in all the municipalities with elementary, junior high school, and senior high school principals. I also taught the subject of Leadership to the leaders of the University Student Federation (FEU, by its Spanish acronym)."
What does the University of Las Tunas represent in Zenaida's life?
"The University of Las Tunas has been very significant in my professional life because it allowed me to work with young people and be able to apply all my learning to transform them and modify their ways of acting. I had the opportunity to participate in international Pedagogy events, Higher Education Congresses, and many other events that prepared me to be more efficient as an education professional. It fills me with pride that many of my students today are professors at the Faculty of Educational Sciences. In this university, I saw the integral teachers for basic secondary education being trained and what satisfies me the most is to have taken care of early childhood education, which is undoubtedly my great professional treasure."
Zenaida will no longer be in the university classrooms. Future students, teachers, will not have the fortune of receiving her teachings in person; but her knowledge will remain forever in study materials, conferences, articles. Her teachings will live on among her co-workers and those teachers who were once her students.