Aurora-Marie Dolopo Zhivago is an American cartoonist and published children's book author based in Chula Vista. Aurora graduated from college in 1989 at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles. Interested in the medical field she also took classes in nursing obtaining her Surgical Technology Certificate from Southwestern College. She earned the nickname "Dr. Zhivago" while working in surgery by the doctors she assisted as a nurse, which became her pen-name.
Dr. Zhivago always made time for children while working full-time as a Surgical Technician. She taught the wonderful world of drawing and basic animation throughout San Diego schools, libraries, museums and Children's Hospital, since 1996. Eventually, Dr. Zhivago would retire from her medical career and find her way back to the arts by pursuing her cartoon business full-time. In 2012, her first book, "The Sakura '', was published.
The Sakura is part of a series of three volumes which is sold as a paperback and e-book on Amazon books and Barnes & Noble. She earned a medal from the San Diego Public Library for Local Author in 2013. As tribute to fellow illustrator-author Dr. Seuss, Dr. Zhivago was also chosen as a familiar nickname among the children and staff of the elementary schools she visited.
She continues to market and sell her graphic cartoons globally. Marie's stories have a foundation in teaching and environmental awareness through VAPA (Visual and Performing Arts) for media arts and theater.
In 2021, she was recognized and acknowledged by city officials for her supporting role in bringing the Arts in the Park event to Chula Vista, a city-wide visual and performing arts celebration. “We hit the ball out of the park with Neisha’s dance academy, local folklorico and mariachi groups, the Bonita Arts Guild, and many who assisted us.” Marie said about the event and added “[Councilmemeber] Jill Galvez said that it brought so much traffic to the businesses on third avenue, it was a great success.”
Marie also played a key role in the Filipino American 3rd Annual festival at Otay Ranch Town Center on Oct. 16 where she participated along with other arts performers such as Maraya Dance Academy, to bring art to the community.
Marie is now a Lead Teaching Artist in Media Arts at the ARTS, (A Reason To Survive) Center in National City. ARTS is dedicated to arts and culture in the south bay region empowering families and community members to build healthy, resilient, and equitable communities. “A.R.T.S. is a secret gem, it is a community space. A lot of the kids are on scholarships, we are trying to empower these communities through the art and programs such as internships.” Said Marie.
She also sits on the Board for the South Bay Historical Society as well as for Onstage Playhouse in Chula Vista. Her motive, she explained, is not just to help the Filipino-Americans but Black-Americans, Mexican-Americans and bring them together into a blended society. “I want to create an arts event and bring all the community together. Some schools are affluent and have the programs but many don’t. My goal in life is to do that.”