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Dominican education official will receive honorary degree

by Cheryl Roland

April 12, 2011 | WMU News

Photo of Dr. Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona.
Dr. Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona
KALAMAZOO--Dr. Ligia Amada Melo de Cardona, minister of education for the Dominican Republic, will receive an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Western Michigan University during April 30 commencement ceremonies.

WMU's Board of Trustees approved the honor at its April 8 meeting.

Melo is credited with providing educational leadership, being a mentor to students from her country and being a driving force behind her nation's Dominican National Scholars Program. The program provides funding for a broad swath of students from the Dominican Republic to learn English and travel to approved universities in the United States to pursue their dreams.

Since 2008, WMU has been one of a select group of American universities enrolling students through the scholarship program. This year, some 140 Dominican students are studying at the University.

"Minister Melo displays an extraordinary record of contributing to both primary and secondary educational improvement in the Dominican Republic," the University's Honorary Degree Committee found in approving her nomination. "Her drive to expand and develop the human capital potential of the next generation of leaders in her country will undoubtedly have tremendous impact on Dominican society well into the future."

Unlike many such international programs, the Dominican National Scholars Program does not limit the disciplines in which students study and does not tilt participation in favor of children from affluent families. Melo has reached out to students from poor and rural families to find students with the potential to become part of the next generation of leadership in their nation.

A native of the Dominican Republic's La Altagracia province, Melo began her career as a secondary school teacher, and she has been involved in or led many of the educational reform efforts in her nation since 1964. Her contributions to reform began in primary and secondary educational improvement. More recently, her contributions have reached to higher education, with significant work in the areas of science, technology and research. She has served as her country's minister of education since 2004.

Melo earned a bachelor's degree in biology and a master's degree in higher education, both at the Autonomous University of Santo Domingo. Her doctoral degree from the Complutense University of Madrid is pending.