UAlbany Alum a 'Young Latino of the White House'
Burbano said his experience at UAlbany prepared him for a career in politics, government and nonprofit work. (Photo by John Makely/NBC News)
ALBANY, N.Y. (August 15, 2016) – UAlbany alum Irving Burbano ’11 will follow the election with great interest this fall.
After all, he’s already been deputy press secretary to Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Sen. Tim Kaine.
Burbano was among the young Latinos featured recently in an NBC Exclusive: Young Latinos of the Obama White House: Witnesses, Participants in History. The story notes that more young Hispanics have worked at the Obama White House than in any previous administration.
Burbano has not worked for the Administration, but he got his start by working on President Obama’s re-election campaign in 2012. First he joined the Hispanic Media Department, part of the communications team at Obama headquarters in Chicago. He supported the department by conducting research and doing outreach. He later became a field organizer in New Mexico in one of the most Hispanic districts in the country.
After the campaign he worked on Capitol Hill with Rep. George Miller of California and then moved on to Sen. Kaine’s office. “I used skills and information I learned from the Department of Latin American, Caribbean & U.S. Latino Studies at UAlbany as well as the Political Science department,” he said.
Burbano said Kaine’s commitment to the Latino community is authentic and meaningful. “I am very proud to have worked for him,” he said.
Today Burbano is public relations and media manager at the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute in Washington, D.C., a leadership development organization that provides young Latinos with paid internships and fellowships as well as scholarships.
“The University at Albany prepared me for all of the roles I have taken after college and I am very proud to say that I am an alumnus of one of the finest SUNY schools with one of the liveliest and most diverse campuses in the nation,” said Burbano. “UAlbany’s curriculum, faculty and student life are a reflection of the real world and I appreciate that at every step of my personal and professional journey.”
Born in New York City, Burbano was raised by his grandparents and his mother, who are immigrants from Ecuador. He speaks only Spanish at home and learned English at school, so has a good grasp of both languages.
At UAlbany, Burbano was a Project Excel student.
Project Excel, or Student Support Services, is a federal TRIO program under the wing of the Office of Access & Academic Enrichment. TRIO programs are federal outreach and student services programs designed to provide services for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Burbano said his major in political science and minor in Latin American studies “prepared me for a career in politics, government and nonprofit work. My professors did a great job at improving my analytical and writing skills which have proven very important in the work I have done since graduating.”
He added, “Project Excel was critical to my success at UAlbany and beyond. Although I was not an Educational Opportunities Program student, the staff from both programs were mentors who provided guidance and support and eventually became like family to me. They helped me with tutors, with extra support for academic projects, they connected me with opportunities for advocacy, they recommended me for a Model Senate program which I participated in and they also provided financial aid for tuition. They were there for me in very tangible ways.”
Burbano’s experience as president of Fuerza Latina, the Latino club on campus, “was the most special experience of my college career and it remains a part of who I am as a professional and as a person.” He said the projects the club undertook were important to the Latino community at UAlbany.
“We helped educate the entire UAlbany community, not just the Latinos, on Hispanic culture and on the issues that are important to us. We executed projects of all scales, including a national conference and this filled us with pride and excitement,” he said.
These projects included the annual Fuerza Night, where different cultural groups perform dance, song and poetry; and evening forums on topics relevant to the Latino community.
“Fuerza was also a training ground for the workforce after college. In working with colleagues on different projects, managing a budget, fundraising and organizing people for a common goal, I developed the skills that I would use during the President’s campaign in 2012 and beyond,” said Burbano.
From where does he draw encouragement to succeed?
“My mom instilled in me the need to get a higher education and she continues to be my No. 1 coach and motivator in all areas of my life,” said Burbano.
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