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NDU Inducts Two International Alumni into Hall of Fame

By | September 03, 2014

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National Defense University (NDU) Interim President Ambassador Wanda L. Nesbitt formally inducted two international alumni into the International Fellows Hall of Fame on September 3, 2014.  The inductees, Major General Kenrick Maharaj and Admiral José Santiago Valdés Álvarez, hail from Trinidad and Tobago and Mexico, respectively.  The International Fellows Hall of Fame was established in 1999 to provide a prestigious and visible means to honor NDU graduates who have attained, through military merit, the highest positions in their nations’ Armed Forces or who have held equivalent positions in a multinational military organization.  All of the honorees are part of the broader International Fellows alumni program, which connects more than 1,500 NDU graduates from more than 120 countries.

“NDU prepares students to effectively lead in a world that is increasingly complex and dynamic,” said Ambassador Nesbitt.  “Our rigorous programs are designed to help students think more strategically and holistically to creatively solve emerging problems.  In addition to honing their leadership and strategy skills, our students become part of a professional network that spans the globe.  This network provides students with a rich resource throughout their careers and benefits our nation and theirs by enhancing inter-service, inter-agency, and international understanding and cooperation.”    

Major General Kenrick Maharaj is the first graduate of NDU’s College of International Security Affairs (CISA) to be inducted into the hall of fame.  He currently serves as Chief of the Defense Staff of the Trinidad and Tobago Defense Force.  During his career, General Maharaj has served in many command and staff appointments, including as commander of the First Infantry Battalion and as deputy regional operations commander and chief of staff for the planning and execution of the Regional Security Plan for the 2007 Cricket World Cup.  Additionally, he has served as commander of the Trinidad and Tobago Regiment, as well as Vice Chief of the Defense Staff.  General Maharaj earned the Distinguished International Graduate award from the CISA International Counterterrorism Fellows Program.  

“I consider the experience at NDU as a strategic professional intervention, because it … carried me from the operational level of thinking to the strategic level,” said General Maharaj. “CISA’s counterterrorism program was a comprehensive program of learning that allowed me to get a broad perspective on the issues of global security.”

Admiral José Santiago Valdés Álvarez is the first Mexican officer to be inducted into the hall of fame.  His military career spans 49 years, including service as Chief of the General Staff of the Mexican Navy from 2011-2012.  He currently serves as Assistant Director General of the Institute for Social Security of the Mexican Armed Forces (ISSFAM).  Previously, Admiral Valdés served as General Director of Administration and Finance for the Ministry of the Marines, commander of the military and naval sector in Topolobampo, and commander of several naval areas and regions, including Veracruz, Isla Mujeres, Puerto Vallarta, and Acapulco.  In 1995, Admiral Valdés earned a master’s degree in national strategic resource management from NDU’s Industrial College of the Armed Forces, now the Dwight D. Eisenhower School for National Security and Resource Strategy.

“NDU gave me the opportunity to learn more about American citizens, showed me the real American culture, [enhanced my] strategic thinking and global vision, and showed the importance of having long-term views of economic, political, social, and military issues,” remarked Admiral Valdés.  “It helped us work with American organizations and in strengthening relations between Mexico and the United States.”

NDU is the premier national security institution focused on supporting the joint warfighter by providing rigorous Joint Professional Military Education to members of the U.S. Armed Forces and select others in order to develop leaders who have the ability to operate and creatively think in an unpredictable and complex world.  For more information about NDU, please contact Mark Phillips, Director of Strategic Communications, at (202) 685-3140 or mark.phillips.civ@ndu.edu or visit www.ndu.edu.   

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