A Brock professor is in the running to have her name added to a prestigious top 10 list.
Maria del Carmen Suescun Pozas, an associate professor of history, has been nominated for the 2012 edition of the 10 most influential Hispanic Canadians, an annual award program that celebrates the contributions of Hispanics in Canada.
“I feel very honoured. When you look at the other nominees, and those who have received the award, it really gives you a sense of the amazing things Hispanics, who live and work in Canada, are contributing to Canadian society,” Suescun Pozas said in a recent telephone interview from Mexico City, where she is on sabbatical.
“Being nominated means you are significant and play a meaningful role in your community. That to me is the bottom ground of the work I do,” she added. “The nomination is in itself a major achievement. It means that as a university professor, you have reached out to the community.”
The awards are organized by the Canadian Hispanic Business Association and are the only national annual program that celebrates the achievements of Hispanic Canadians.
Thirty people have been nominated for the honour this year for their roles and achievements in education, support of the Hispanic community, volunteerism, entrepreneurship, and ability to influence the Canadian mainstream.
According to Statistics Canada, there were 741,760 Hispanics living in Canada in 2006. They were five years younger than the average Canadian and more likely to be university educated. More than 70 per cent came to Canada in the last 25 years. Spanish is also the third most widely spoken language in Canada.
Suescun Pozas was born in Venezuela to Spanish-Colombian parents and raised in Bogotá (Colombia) before moving to Canada 22 years ago to pursue her undergraduate studies.
She came to Brock University to teach in 2007 and volunteers with the Niagara Immigrant Mentorship Program, which helps highly skilled new Canadians to make professional connections and gain employment in their fields.
Suescun Pozas is also involved with several organizations, including the Canadian Association for Latin American and Caribbean Studies (CALACS), the Latin American Researchers of Ontario (LARO), and projects dealing with memory, history and social change, visual arts, and development in Canada.
Her work spans institutional and geographic boundaries and she has collaborated with scholars, artists, writers, academic, government, non-government, community organizations and the public.
“We always say that Canada is so big and it is so difficult to connect. When you learn that eleven women and 19 men from five provinces and representing ten countries of origin were nominated for this year’s awards, it means that the things I have been doing since I came to Brock have had impact - meaningful impact,” she said.
The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 21.
Being selected as one of the top 10 would affirm for Suescun Pozas that she is truly a “universal citizen.”
“It means I’m acknowledged by Hispanics in Canada and by people with a longer history in Canada,” she said. “It means creating bridges between Canadian and the Hispanic world.”