Rafael A. Ledesma Schoowe, an agricultural leader from the Dominican Republic who holds three degrees from Texas A&M University, has been named the university’s Outstanding International Alumnus for 2012.
The award was presented to Ledesma Thursday (April 19) at a dinner at the Clayton W. Williams, Jr. Alumni Center. Speakers at the dinner include Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin ’71 and Vice Chancellor and Dean Mark A. Hussey, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. They were joined in presenting the award by Porter S. Garner III ’79, president and CEO of The Association of Former Students, and Otway B. Denny, Jr. ’71, chair the board at The Association of Former Students.
Ledesma is country director for the Partners of America – Farmer to Farmer Program in the Dominican Republic. There he serves as country representative and project manager for development of small, medium and large agricultural enterprises. He leads and supervises the work of 80 volunteer specialists from universities in the United States who are providing training to improve market competitiveness. They serve more than 5,000 entrepreneurs, small, medium and large producers of fruits and vegetables produced in greenhouses, of which 30 percent are women.
“Dr. Ledesma adheres to the values that we seek to instill in our students, notably selfless service and leadership,” said President Loftin. “He has touched thousands of lives in Latin America and the Caribbean, and has maintained strong ties with his alma mater through his involvement with Aggie Muster and as founder and president of his local A&M Club in Santo Domingo.”
Born in the Dominican Republic, Ledesma earned three agriculture degrees from Texas A&M beginning with a bachelor’s in 1968 as one of a contingent of 100 Dominican students under an USAID funded program. He received a master of science degree in 1970 and a Ph.D. in 1980. Previously, he gained an agronomist degree from Universidad El Zamorano (1965) in Honduras. He is a life-long learner who has added certification in distance education technologies and administration from Texas A&M, as well as a certificate in conversion of traditional teaching materials to multimedia format from the University of Barcelona in Spain and an executive management certificate from Central American Institute of Business Administration in Costa Rica.
“Recognizing Dr. Ledesma for his exceptional work could not have fallen on a more appropriate time,” said Hussey. “2012 marks the 150th anniversary of the Morrill Act, which established our land-grant university mission of promoting education, research, service and extension. Not only is his work an admirable example of that mission, it also represents our dedication to expand our reach worldwide.”
During his 44 year career, Ledesma has worked to improve the lives of people in the Dominican Republic, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua, Peru and other Latin American and Caribbean Countries.
His nominator, Gary Wingenbach, professor and coordinator of the International Agricultural Development Work Group in the Department of Agricultural Leadership, Education and Communication, wrote that Ledesma “has consistently made a difference and a tangible long-lasting contribution to the people and nations wherever he has worked.”
Ledesma has been successful in managing the financial, human and physical resources of a number of projects in the millions of dollars, resulting in the education and training programs for the purpose of increasing productivity, quality of life, expanding market outlets and increasing the volume of agriculture and livestock producers to compete with imported goods. Projects include food safety, designing a master’s degree program in agribusiness management, watershed management, and developing a distance education network of centers he helped to establish in 19 Latin America and Caribbean countries delivering interactive training utilizing current information and communications technologies. Currently, 25 agricultural institutions are connected weekly offering more than 50 courses; 10,000 have participated.
“I’m still surprised at receiving such an award, and proud of representing my Dominican Aggie brothers,” Ledesma said. “And I appreciate the generous support of many staff, specialists, and researchers at Texas A&M University that have helped me throughout my career.”
The Outstanding International Alumnus Award is jointly sponsored by Texas A&M, The Association of Former Students and the college of the recipient. Created in 1994, this award honors Texas A&M graduates who were not U.S. citizens while attending the university, but who went on to achieve prominence in education, the sciences, technology, agriculture, the arts, business, humanities or government. Those who are chosen for this award must have a good record of accomplishments that favorably reflect on his or her educational experience at Texas A&M. Other recipients are listed online here.
Media contact: Linda Edwards at 979-862-6700