La Palma-Cerritos AAUW

La Palma-Cerritos AAUW member published her first book in June of 2022

Author Maria Celia Borja Van Zitter displays a copy of her book. Photo by Edna Ethington.
Author Maria Celia Borja Van Zitter displays a copy of her book. Photo by Edna Ethington.

When Maria Cecilia Borja-Van Zitter sent me an e-mail on June 21, 2022, I was surprised to learn that she had published a children’s book and was ready to launch it on Amazon on June 22, 2022. She told me that the book was called, “ONE JOYFUL SCOOP AT A TIME!” and that it was about her grandson Bowman, who is called “Bo” in the story. She said that in the book, Bo had a problem at a swimming lesson and had to miss out on his favorite activities until he learned to follow rules and have patience. The book sounded interesting, so I ordered the book from Amazon and read it.

I only knew Maria Cecilia Borja-Van Zitter as ”Ceci Borja-Van Zitter” when she became Hospitality Chairman for our La Palma-Cerritos American Association of University Women (AAUW). After I read her book, I learned more about her. According to her book, Ceci came to Los Angeles, California, in 1966 from Tulcan and Quito, Equador. She said she attended Franklin High School in Highland Park where she met her future husband, Peter. She became a citizen of the United States of America on April 4, 1986.

Ceci and Peter Van Zitter were married for 33 years from December of 1986 until his passing on March 21, 2020, from lung cancer. I did not know about Peter’s death and did not attend his funeral because of all the restrictions at that time during the Covid-19 pandemic that discouraged gatherings of people.

When I asked Ceci why she wrote the book about Bo, she said that she wanted to fulfill one of her husband’s last wishes, to “take good care of Bowman.” Bo was two years old at that time. Ceci had retired from teaching in 2017 to take care of Peter, and she felt tired for a while after he died. However, in January of 2021, she decided to take a Zoom class entitled, “Personal Development: Re-Ignite Your Life!” by Jack Canfield. Jack challenged her class to do something that would push them out of their comfort zone. At this class, she met Miriam Laundry, who is a Children’s Book Author and Teacher. She decided to challenge herself and took two classes from Miriam to learn how to write a Children’s Book.

She is more than just an author of a Children’s Book!

I learned more about Ceci after I asked to see her resume. Maria Cecilia Borja-Van Zitter first joined the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW in about 1992 and was an active member for about four years while she was a homemaker raising her children. When she decided to return to her teaching career, she was a high school Spanish teacher at Gardena High School in Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) for three years from 1995 to 1998, and a Spanish and French language teacher for almost 20 years at John Glenn High School (JGHS) in Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District (NLMUSD), from 1998 to 2017.

She rejoined the La Palma-Cerritos AAUW in 2017 and continues as a branch member to the present. Ceci’s resume showed me how multi-talented and accomplished she was as a student and as a teacher. She has an A.A. Degree in French from Cerritos College, an A.A. Degree in Liberal Arts from East Los Angeles College (ELAC), a B.A. in Spanish from California State University of Los Angeles (CSULA), and a M.A. in Educational Administration from Point Loma Nazarene University in Pasadena. She has Clear Teaching Credentials for teaching Spanish, Adult Basic Education, Foreign Language, English, and Speech Arts. She also has had Common Core training through the California Language Teachers’ Association and has taken Grief Share Classes at Sea Coast Grace Church in Cypress.

As a student, Ceci was honored by being on the National Dean’s List at CSULA and ELAC, and also received the President’s Award at ELAC. She won a Grant and Scholarship through International Programs at CSULA to study for one year in Spain, and was Primera Reina del Club Nacional Ecuatoriano en Los Angeles. She is known as an outstanding teacher! She was recognized as Teacher of the Month in 2005 at JGHS, and Star Teacher of the Week at NLMUSD for February 7,2014.

NLMUSD honored her for having the highest percentage of students passing the AP Spanish Literature Test at JGHS. In 2014, she was chosen to represent NLMUSD in Isehara, Japan, for one week, as an Educational Exchange Teacher. Ceci continues to use her teaching talents today as she is called to help teachers as a substitute teacher.

As a member of the La Palma-Cerritos Branch of the AAUW, she attended the XXV Triennial Conference of the International Women’s Federation of University Women, now called the Graduate Women International, during the month of August 18-25, 1995, in Yokohama, Japan. She continues to support the educational efforts of women locally and internationally through grants, fellowships, and scholarships that are given by groups to which she belongs, such as the AAUW, the Ariday International in Ecuador, the Graduate Women International, and her own Maria Borja Foundation in Tulcan, Ecuador.

Congratulations to Maria Cecilia Borja Van Zitter for writing her first Children’s Book with a message for young children to follow rules and have patience to wait to celebrate good things in their lives with their families! Her book is easy for young people to read and is colorfully illustrated by Sara Nieto. Abuelita Ceci said that she hopes to write more books about Bo as she helps him to grow up with her love and guidance.

Maria Cecilia Borja-Van Zitter’s book is available from Amazon in English as “One Joyful Scoop at a Time!” at, or in Spanish as “Una Alegre Porcion de Helado a la Vez!”