Luis Fernando Maldonado Mejía, Class of 2009 and a ZAMORANO graduate from Food Science and Technology has received the Teaching Academy Graduate Teaching Award at Purdue University.
In an interview, Luis Fernando shares his life with the ZAMORANO community and tells us how he has succeeded.
Before you came to ZAMORANO, where you headed towards agriculture?
My interest in agriculture and the food industry started during my senior year of high school when I enrolled in an industrial electronics course. During the course, we went on a field trip to a shrimp processing company, which sparked my interest in the agricultural industry. That year, members of ZAMORANO came to my school in Tegucigalpa, and I was attracted by the Food Science and Technology career. I asked them what steps needed to be taken in order to enroll and that is how my adventure began as I joined my alma mater.
By the second year, my interest to further my studies started to grow. I longed to get an advanced specialization in food science. On my third year, I focused on obtaining an internship in the United States and thanks to the support of Dr. Francisco Bueso; I was able to participate in an internship at Texas A&M University, which I believe opened a door for me.
Did you receive financial aid to study at ZAMORANO?
Yes, upon receiving my acceptance letter from ZAMORANO, I began to knock on doors to seek financial support since my parents did not have the means to cover tuition. I received the support from different sources such as the “Food for Progress” program for Hondurans, the Government of the United States, the Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock of Honduras, and my own funds complemented by a student loan.
How do you achieve your goals?
As a student, I did not understand the magnitude of what I learned at ZAMORANO. I realized the impact of my education until I began to interact with colleagues from other universities and professionals who worked in the food industry. During my internship at Texas A&M University, I had the chance to attend a Food Chemistry class and my conclusion was that the Food Science and Technology career at ZAMORANO is quite ambitious. Learning by doing had a considerable effect on my personality. I work hard and do not give up on my goals. I believe that besides working hard, the support of my family, my being persistent, and a perfectionist has helped me reach my goals.
What motivated you to study at Purdue?
I wanted to continue with my studies abroad, so I started looking for opportunities to study in the United States. Thanks to Dr. Luis Osorio´s support, I was awarded with a 6-month internship at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I met professors who helped me move up to Purdue University. Purdue has an excellent program in food science and is highly competitive worldwide in terms of education and research. When I came to Purdue, I started as a master’s degree student and then my consulting professor provided me with the opportunity to take my doctorate, which I am just a few steps away to complete.
Do you have a message for students on how to achieve their goals?
My message would be that they should always be hungry for new challenges, always be willing to surpass themselves and compete fairly. That their goals have to be clear. They have to understand that the road might be bumpy but they must be willing to sacrifice certain things certain that it will have its future reward.
If you fall, remember the reason you decided to reach that goal, get up and continue working for it. Work overcomes everything.
How did the award come about?
During the fall of 2017, I worked as an assistant teacher for the Food Processing II class at the Department of Food Science. My evaluation at the end of the class had excellent comments from the students who attended the course.
This award honors graduate students with teaching responsibilities from across campus for their dedication to Purdue students and their outstanding teaching contributions. Recipients are selected by each academic department for their commitment to undergraduate education. Departments may select one recipient for every 50 graduate teaching assistants they support. I was one of them.