How Navy Training and Love of Her Culture Shapes the Mission of Veteran Cecilia Burgos

Ceci Burgos Belatina
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Here’s what you need to know about Cecilia Burgos — she’s a creative problem solver who is passionate about two things: comida and community (aren’t we all?). The Latina veteran honed her storytelling skills after serving in the Navy for eight years, where she documented missions in Iraq as a photographer.

But after completing her military service, Burgos sought a completely different path — harnessing her love of food with telling unique stories. With this in mind, she set out to amplify Latinx-owned restaurants based in New York City, particularly in minority communities.

What drives the passion behind her persistence? Promoting lesser-known cuisines that have the ability of uniting people from all walks of life.

“I want to change [how underrepresented Latinos are in media] by narrowing the media coverage gap that exists…by encouraging mainstream reporters to visit The Bronx and lesser covered areas of New York,” Burgos told Forbes. “If you go to any restaurants Latinos are the ones who are running the kitchen, they are the ones doing the majority of the work but when you look at food media it is never a Latinx who is in the spotlight.”

Navigating the transition from being in the Navy to intrepid entrepreneur was not an easy one, but Burgos learned a few valuable lessons as a result. “In the military you work with people from different walks of life, as I moved up in my military career, I learned that to be able to be a good leader you had to learn to communicate,” she explained. Speaking confidently and convincingly during her time in service enabled her to translate this skill set to her PR and marketing work.

Her Message to Latinas: Network, Network, Network!

As she told Forbes, “networking can be intimidating at first, especially when you’re new, but it has opened up so many doors for my business. You might be surprised at how many people are willing to help you,” she said. “By the same token be willing to help someone and not expect anything in return.”

The biggest lesson Burgos says she learned by far was to not give up on things no matter how difficult they seem. “In the military “no” is not an option. I had to do things that were tough even when I thought I wouldn’t be able to,” she added. “You find a way to do it, and I had to dig deep inside myself a lot.

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