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Hispanic Forum Award Nominees

By: Jennifer Cavazos
By: Jennifer Cavazos

The Hispanic Forum is a group that prides themselves on recognizing those in the Hispanic community who've made a difference.

The candidates are selected from dozens of community-submitted nominees and represent outstanding leaders who have contributed to the growth and improvement of the Bryan/College Station area.

Patricia Garcia Burk, is up for Lifetime Achievement and Hispanic of the Year.

She's the executive director for the local affiliate of Habitat for Humanity. After helping bring the charitable organization to the Brazos Valley 16 years ago, Burk has helped dozens of families acquire simple, affordable housing.

In her time with Habitat, she has done everything from swinging a hammer to helping the organization raise more than $3 million and coordinating the efforts of thousands of volunteers who help build the homes.

"Working with volunteers in the community, working with the families in this community has been such a blessing in my life," says Trish.

A native of Peru, Burk came to the United States as a young girl, growing up most of her life in Virginia. Like most who come to the states, Burk's parents were looking for a better life for their family.
The youngest of six children, Burk has never left her Hispanic roots.

"I've always felt my Hispanic heritage is a huge part of who I am. When I became a citizen in 1989, the same year we started habitat, I felt very strongly that I didn't want to lose my Hispanic heritage. When they asked me to sign my name on the citizenship papers I wrote Patricia Garcia Burk cause I didn't want to lose the Garcia," says Trish.

She says moving to the Brazos Valley has given her an opportunity to connect with the Hispanic community. More than half of the families who receive Habitat homes, are Hispanic. And because of her passion, this chapter has not only built homes but created neighborhoods.

"I've had more opportunities here first a resident alien and then as a citizen than I could have ever dreamt of in Peru," says Trish.

Irene Buentello is also up for Lifetime Achievement award.

The Bryan native, made her dream of working in the White House a reality. She works for the European Directorate of the National Security Council as an administrative assistant.

Politics became a big part of Irene's life in the late 70's. She joined former Senator Phil Gramm's campaign and when he was elected, Irene was offered a job.

She began working for former Congressman Kika de la Garza's office until 1995, when the house changed administration.

Through her work, Irene has traveled much of Eastern Europe. In 1998, Irene decided to take the Foreign Service test and was able to travel to Poland, the Dominican Republic and Moscow. She was also part of the advanced team that traveled with Senator Hillary Clinton.

All the winners will be announced at the Hispanic Forum Awards Gala, Saturday July 23.


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