Calling the experience “magic and priceless,” Northeastern Illinois University Professor of Educational Leadership and Development Ana Gil-Garcia has been honored by her hometown in Venezuela in recognition of her career in education and civil service.
Gil-Garcia returned to Porlamar, which is the largest city on Isla Margarita, Nueva Esparta State in Venezuela, to accept two special honors from the City Council of the Municipality of Marino on March 31.
“I came to Porlamar when I was 5 years old from Boca de Pozo, the Municipality of Peninsula de Macanao,” Gil-Garcia said. “My K-12 years and my two first academic semesters at the university took place in Porlamar.”
Now her city has shown its appreciation of her accomplishments as she received the Hija Adoptiva de Porlamar (Adoptive Citizen of Porlamar) award and the Medal General Santiago Marino award, the highest honor given to a “Porlamarense.” The event, which also celebrated the 480th anniversary of the city, was held in the Bolivar Square Seafaring town, beginning with a mass at St. Nicholas Church Bari.
“The church that I went to and the Plaza Bolivar, where I spent many hours with friends, chatting and eating ice cream, were both witnesses of this event,” Gil-Garcia said. “There were also 15 of my high school classmates, my sixth-grade teacher and at least 45 members of my family at the event.”
In a local newspaper article, José Gregorio Gómez, president of the council, praised the life and legacy of Gil-Garcia, for her contribution to the development of Porlamar and Nueva Esparta, and stressed that she and others should be an example for new generations of leaders.
Gil-Garcia, a Fulbright Scholar, arrived at Northeastern in 1996. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Education from Pedagogical University in Venezuela, her master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee-Martin and her Ed.D. in Educational Leadership from Western Michigan University.
Gil-Garcia teaches instructional leadership, educational leadership and organizational studies and research design and analysis of educational data at Northeastern.
Gil-Garcia said she believes there is no end in education and she will continue to champion its causes in the lives of students around the world.
“Education is the only feasible arm to combat poverty and ignorance,” she said. “Making education accessible to females, keeping them in the schools, and helping them in their development prevail on my bucket list of things that I think I will do until an end of my life comes.”