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Siza Mtimbiri- HEAA Vice President

March 30, 2024
By Chrissy Natoli

Siza HEAA Vice President at commencement in cap and gown
Siza and his wife Laura at the graduation for his ALB ’06

Siza Mtimbiri ALB ’06 ALM ’07 has a 30-year passion for education which has led to teaching experiences in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Morocco, the UK and currently, the US. His first degree was at the University of South Africa, followed by a few more delightful years at the Extension School where he earned a Bachelors in Liberal Arts in Extension Studies (Social Sciences) and a Masters in Liberal arts in Extension Studies (Technologies of Education). His rewarding studies at Harvard Extension School allowed him to pursue a Master’s in Philosophy and a PhD in Education at the University of Cambridge. With the changing landscape in education, fueled by the pandemic, Siza will be going back to school again to learn more about leading in challenging environments, this time at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

We spoke to Siza about what inspires him, what he hopes to accomplish as Vice President of the HEAA Board of Directors and more!

As Vice President the HEAA Board of Directors, what do you hope to accomplish during your tenure?

My main goal is to support the exciting vision set by our HEAA President, Ariel Gamiño Miranda ALM ’03, which focuses on career development, service, engagement and scouting the needs of our alumni. I am particularly interested in how we, as alumni, can connect in our areas of interest to join in solving some of the world’s pressing challenges. I believe that these communities of interest will be able to synergize resources to make a difference, which I believe is a large part of the privilege that we have had to attend Harvard University. The Extension School has a particular advantage in that most of the students who hold degrees are already highly experienced in their own fields and bring tremendous experience, ideas and know-how in solving a myriad of challenges. Together with the Harvard University Alumni at large, I want to see how we can harness this influence for the good.

What do you enjoy most about volunteering for this role?

Connections, learning new things and most of all, giving back to the School that has given me ever so much! The colleagues that I work with on the Board are highly driven people who do amazing things with humility; I am inspired by their outlook of always trying to reach out to other people. Their exemplary dedication to our School is exceptional.

What impact do you hope to have on the HEAA community?

A legacy of service: an impact that changes the lives of others one person at a time can be the most gratifying venture there is. Using the privilege others have allowed us to enjoy to serve and help others to become all that they can, in turn, to spread that mindset, will be the impact I hope to have on our work that has already been buoyed to exciting levels by others.

What opportunities did your HES Degree unlock for you in your professional and personal life?

Siza commencement day in cap and gown

Like many other HES Alumni, I came to the Extension School after having had an outstanding education from a visionary mentor, Vivian Jenkins, who started one of the best groups of schools in Zimbabwe, Midlands Christian School, Midlands Christian College and Midlands Teachers College. My HES degrees extended my passion for learning and provided me with a world-class education that allowed me to pursue further studies at the University of Cambridge, with a Gates Scholarship for my Ph.D. The HES experience was so thorough and inspiring that it left me wanting to learn more. I benefited greatly from the tutelage and mentorship of Catalina Laserna who saw me through both my ALB and ALM. Catalina did her Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge, and I could not be happier to follow in her footsteps. I also enjoyed immense support from Trisha Craig, formerly the Executive Director of the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard and Marjorie North, whose Public Speaking Class led me to be class speaker for my year – a privilege I treasure to this day! The ALM in Technologies of Education armed me with all that I needed to build on for using various technologies in schools as an educator. It gave me an opportunity to work with experts at MIT’s Media Lab who were working on the $100 Laptop at the time. The intensity of the work allowed me to be successful at the University of Cambridge where terms are shorter and for the Ph.D., the work is extremely demanding.

If you could live anywhere in the world for a month free of responsibilities where would it be and what would you do there?

As I grow older, I enjoy visiting places where I can learn more about my craft of education! While Zimbabwe has some of the best schools in the world (Christian Brothers College, Midlands Christian School, Falcon College, St. Georges, Girls College to name a few), we do have schools in need of support in rural areas. So, Plumtree in Zimbabwe would be a sweet spot! I would also cherish an opportunity to be in war-torn countries to work with children who have experienced war-related trauma. Children in Haiti, Ukraine, Israel and Gaza come to mind. As a Junior Fellow in Yale Childhood – Trauma Learning Collaborative, discussions center on how significant trauma faced by children in environments of war, strife and poverty can last for years – educators have a role to play in helping children heal and learn to cope.