How long have you lived in Hernando County, and where do you live? Where did you live previously?
My husband and I moved from Staten Island, N.Y., to Hernando County in 1995. I came to Staten Island from Costa Rica in September 1957.
Who are the members of your family?
My husband, Albert Pedersen Sr., and I did not have children, but we have dozens of nieces and nephews scattered around the country and abroad. I come from a family of 10, five boys and five girls. Life was short for many of them, and I only have two sisters and my youngest brother now.
Coexisting with us are five cats — Mama cat and Beau are the girls, and the boys are Guy, Nasty and Brandy.
Tell us about your career.
My career has taken many turns over the years. As a young girl, I was a schoolteacher in Costa Rica. A trip to New York to attend a wedding tempted me to go to school to improve my English. After the wedding, the groom's family encouraged me to stay in New York and invited me to stay with them. I stayed for 11 years, leaving when I married Albert.
In New York, without a fluency of English, I could not apply for a teacher's position. I took a job at Bank of America International as a typist and was eventually promoted to bilingual executive secretary, followed by a promotion to assistant supervisor of the general secretaries' pool, and finally I was appointed to international finance officers, handling an account portfolio of governments, central banks, Latin American members of the banking system and multinational corporations.
While all of this was taking place, I had gone back to college to change my career to banking. I graduated from the Spanish-American Institute, city of New York, as an executive bilingual secretary, obtained an associate's degree in business administration from the City University of New York, received a bachelor's degree in business management from St. John's University and later a master's degree in marketing and finance from Wagner College.
Upon retirement, after completing the interior decoration of my home in Barony Woods and landscaping, I found myself wanting to teach again, but I didn't want a full commitment. Substituting was the answer. I was also approached to teach English as a foreign language to people coming to the area from different parts of the world.
I found the work very gratifying and eventually, after hearing how so many of my students have succeeded, realized how meaningful my work had been.
What kinds of activities are you involved in now?
Being involved in the school system, my life once again took another turn. Together with a group of teachers and retirees from various careers, we founded the Hispanic Scholarship Civic & Cultural Foundation in 2005. I serve as the president.
At St. Joan of Arc Catholic Church, where I attend, I am a member of the Council of Catholic Women and the captain of the Welcome Center Ministry, where we help newcomers with information pertaining to the different activities of the church.
Also, together with a neighbor, I involved other residents in Barony Woods to help beautify the entrance to our development for the holiday season.
I also go as often as I can to visit the sick. I encourage everyone to do this.
Do you have any special hobbies?
I like opera, listening to classical music and writing. I enjoy poetry, dancing and languages. (I am fairly fluent in Italian and understand Portuguese because of its similarity to Spanish.) I love gardening, observing nature, feeding the birds to attract them and observing the beauty of the butterflies.
Traveling is my passion, although that has been placed aside for a while. For health reasons, I power-walk 4 miles several days a week, and I can complete the miles in less than an hour. But most important, I derive great satisfaction from helping those less able than me.
What are your favorite things to do in Hernando County?
Go for long rides with my husband to discover beautiful nooks and crannies, visiting restaurants (our car automatically pulls to Carrabba's Italian Grill more often than not). I also love the art scene here.
What do you think would make Hernando County a better place to live?
We need to stop deforestation and manage better our natural resources. Our local government should be more vigilant in not allowing developers to crowd our county with multiple dwellings, houses so close together that people can count the veins in the neighbors' bodies (my husband's words).
Tell us something about yourself that most people don't know.
The only thing people don't know about me is that at one time, a long time ago, I was taking the steps to become a nun.
Hernando Neighbors is an occasional feature of the Hernando Times. Do you know someone who would make a good profile? We'd like to hear from you. Contact Jean Hayes, community news coordinator, at [email protected] or 848-1438.