Dr.Vilma Luz Caban

Travelling and doing humanitarian work is a beautiful blend

By Rezarta Mata

If I asked people for a short definition of the word “vacation” many would probably mention an exotic place near a beautiful beach surrounded by friends and family away from work. But fortunately there are also people who dream of helping others as much and as often as they possibly can even if that meant giving up their vacation time to do so. Yes these people do exist. Dr.Vilma Luz Caban is one of them. A successful woman continuously pursuing ways to change the world for the better through her humanitarian work and her teaching skills, Vilma shares her nothing less but inspiring life journey hoping to inspire many others.

Born and raised in New York City (NYC) with Puerto Rican roots, Vilma has worked in White Plains NY for 23 years. She works as a Dual Language Academy teacher.   As a woman on a mission she is not the typical educator who finishes her work to return home to her personal and family life forgetting about her profession. She is a dedicated teacher, mother, humanitarian and researcher who loves and enjoys what she does. Vilma is living her life’s purpose by helping others.

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“Serving others requires me to let go of my ego and follow my heart. Living by my heart is a creative place where I am inviting others to do the same”

“Serving others requires me to let go of my ego and follow my heart. Living by my heart is a creative place where I am inviting others to do the same. I feel relaxed; it relieves the tension and anxiety. Following my own heart is self-compassion, and self-love. In the act of service, I am serving that light to inspire others. I become a mirror that reflects compassion. It keeps me going with service in trying moments; it is giving me courage.”

According to Vilma one could find her “in the local community outreach in the homeless shelter near the school “where she teaches and participates in various international and national forums to speak on the needs of marginalized populations of children. Living a busy lifestyle it’s often challenging, and requires commitment. Being able to find balance is what has helped Vilma be a “do it all” kind of woman. Vilma explained, “I am still an educator during my 10 months of teaching schedule and the other 185 academic work days out of the 365 days of the year give me the flexibility to use my time off work on various humanitarian initiatives.”

As it is written on her word press blog www.doctoraavazques.wordpress.com under the biography section a few years back she served as an executive board member and advocacy researcher for a grassroots humanitarian organization, Social Changers without boarders, Inc. As a leading member she worked with many research scholars of Walden University Alumni, faculty and students to promote positive social changes around the world. Her research team also launched a humanitarian advocacy research group examining the plight of Guatemalan at-risk children and orphans.

Often teased by her family members for her very active schedule, Vilma finds good excuses for why she continues doing what she does best. She tells them that she is not the “only odd ball doing it.”  When asked why she volunteers her time and professional skills to help orphan children and domestically abused women in third world countries and many other places she said, “Look at the people who participate in the organizations like Cross Cultural Solutions. Bridging the traveling experiences and humanitarian work is a beautiful blend.  And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”

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Vilma speaks from a place of gratitude and a desire for better changes in the global community. She proves that often the most successful people happen to be the most grateful ones. Having a source of inspiration to keep her motivated and grounded is key to her continued success.  She said, “I have been blessed to have the love and support of a strong circle of family and friends.  My best friends who are teachers always would send me cards, messages, and inspirational gifts to keep me going.”

Named after a famous Puerto Rican radio personality of the mid 60s, Vilma Carbia, today Vilma Caban has certain notoriety by many and is a well-known and respected figure in her own field. She has achieved recognitions through her continuous hard work.

Vilma has been part of many important humanitarian research projects and her name is listed on many presentations on topics such as; Breaking the Silence & Cycle of Domestic Violence, Releasing Our Inner “Photo-Voice”, Promoting Latinos in the Advancement of Environmental Studies, “Preparing Tomorrow’s Teachers: A Professional Development School,” “Creating Strong Community Partnerships between Manhattanville College and A Professional Development School,” “Pursuing Doctoral Studies to Promote Positive Social Change,” and many others.

Vilma calls herself a citizen of the world but her first desire of helping the world stems from her childhood. Today she recalls being 10- years -old and watching National Geographic, dreaming about the far places in the world. She would dream of helping homeless and poor children and making a difference to their lives. Her mother regularly brought her back to reality and reminded Vilma of her young age and the tremendous amount of schoolwork ahead of her before she took on the world. She said, “As early as high school, I declared that I wanted to open up schools in different parts of the world so that all children could have a chance to learn.”

Today a great leader in many humanitarian incentives, Vilma was once a great follower.  A good listener of her beloved mother’s advice to work hard and get a good education, Vilma dedicates part of her success to her mother and believes in the strong relationship between daughter and mother. In one of her writings she once said, “As a Latina researcher and advocate reflecting on how my education served as a tool for social justice, I immediately gravitated to my mother’s narrative. Segura (2007) asserts that motherhood is a political, economic, social, and cultural construct that shapes a daughter’s pathway.” She added, “Numerous studies suggest that the mother/daughter relationship and their stories of personal struggle serve as an instrumental tool for daughters to fully interpret their identity and to help “…envision their possible future selves” (Gomez, 2009, p.84).

Vilma completed a Doctorate of Education: Specialization in Teacher Leadership from Walden University, which places her in the 0.4 % of Latina women who go on to higher education and finish their Ph.D. She has her Master’s in Education: Math Leadership Programme from Bank Street College of Education, NY. Vilma is multilingual speaking English, Spanish, Italian, Sign language and basic Arabic.

Vilma is currently working on a documentary project to honor the memory of her beloved mother who lost her battle to cancer. With many dreams for the future she wants to build and develop a retirement nursing home in Toa Alta, Puerto Rico. She is also interested in working for the United Nations. Not only that but she wants to encourages everyone to follow their dreams.

In Vilma’s words:

“I would ask women to give themselves permission to declare their true passions out loud and then find five women in their family and say nothing but just listen to their stories.  How they loved, how they pursued what made them happy, how they struggled to survive disappointments in life, how they raised their children, how they dealt with losses and death, how they honored themselves as women, how they stood up to challenges. Then I would ask them to reach out to five younger women in their social circles and find ways to inspire, encourage, and foster lasting friendships with these young women.  Women are natural sources of light, compassion, energy, inspiration, and hope.  Finding ways to channel these beautiful gifts is the best advice that I would offer to the ladies of the world.

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