Emina Maria Ibragic-Burak was a beautiful, strong and loving woman who brightened every room she entered and every life she touched. Her life was tragically cut short in a car accident on Aug. 9, 2011. She was born in Werfen, Austria, on March 30, 1950, to Idris Ibragic and Maria Herzog and spent her early years in Tenneck, Austria, before moving with her family to Chicago.
She earned her Bachelor of Science in health education, her Master of Science in community health education and did post-master’s doctoral course work at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, Ill. In 1983 she accepted the position of director of the Student Wellness Program at the University of Vermont, and from 1994 until last month, she directed and coordinated the university’s Faculty and Staff Wellness Program.
Beginning in 1984, Emina became an adjunct lecturer with the university’s Department of Education and Social Services. She was planning her fall courses at the time of her death. In connection with her teaching, she published a Peer Wellness Mentoring Workbook and developed a Healthy Workplace Culture Resource Manual.
Emina was the owner of Workplace Health Design: Integrated Health Management Services and a frequent presenter of workshops and seminars on a variety of wellness topics here in Vermont, nationally and internationally. She was a frequent and popular speaker at the annual National Wellness Conference in Stevens Point, Wis., and presented at the First African Wellness Conference in Port Elizabeth, South Africa. She was the recipient of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports Gold Worksite Wellness Award from 1997-2008. She also served as a hard-working member and chairwoman of the Governor’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. She was a member of the President’s Commission on the Status of Women and co-chair of Get Moving Chittenden County for the United Way of Chittenden County and Get Moving Vermont for the Vermont Department of Health.
Most recently, Emina joined Children of the Earth in 2009, initially as a volunteer to coordinate volunteer projects such as Bear Hugs for Haiti and the annual International Day of Peace Youth Event and, most recently, as that organization’s director of administration and development.
The honors received by Emina and accolades accorded to her are too numerous to mention here. She lives on in the hearts and minds of all those who experienced her loving kindness and gentle guidance. She leaves her revered mother, Maria “Oma” Ibragic; two beloved children, Meghan and Gavin McCormick; a devoted and loving husband, Michael L. Burak; two beautiful stepchildren, Michael and Meredith Burak; four siblings, Christa, Tina, Nura and Kemi, and their respective families; and her former husband, Rodney McCormick.
No words can convey the love and appreciation and the loss that is felt by her family, legion of friends and her most devoted and loyal friend, Dexter. Her adventures and journeys to the far corners of the globe with her soul mate, Mike, will remain in his heart forever.
Most recently her passion, enthusiasm and intensely focused energy was harnessed on behalf of the international family established by Nina Meyerhoff as the Children of the Earth. Emina’s family asks that all those touched by Emina’s spirit and passion gather together for a time of love and remembrance at 3 o’clock in the afternoon, this Sunday, Aug. 14, 2011, at her family home located at 31 Dunder Road in Burlington.
In lieu of flowers, her family asks that donations be made to Children of the Earth and mailed to 26 Baycrest Drive, South Burlington, VT 05403.
Published in Times Argus and Burlington Free Press from August 13 to August 14, 2011.