23:18 PM

Corpus Christi City Council Awards Certificate of Commendation to DMC Trucking Graduate, Transitional Driver Ashley Leiva

U.S. Army veteran is one of 11 and only woman finalist for 2022 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award

Article by Melinda Eddleman

She served her country for 15 years with the U.S. Army. As an Army combat veteran, she deployed twice to serve in Iraq. The Sergeant First Class (SFC/E-7) Senior Culinary Management NCO oversaw daily operations for dining facilities at locations across the United States and abroad during her military career.

But, family circumstances required Ashley Leiva to retire sooner than she had planned; and in April 2021, she transitioned from military life to become a civilian.

Ashley Leiva_Nov 2021 DMC Trucking Graduate_Simulator

Leiva’s mother died from cancer six months before the Gregory, Texas-native had planned to separate from military service. She decided to help her brother Johnny Leiva take over their mother’s trucking business, Noemi Trucking, and now they haul crude oil across South Texas for Draco Energy.

“Both my brother and I took over my late mother’s trucking business; and knowing nothing of the Industry, I attended Del Mar College’s Transportation Training Services Program to get an in-depth sense of direction in commercial trucking,” she wrote as part of a nomination packet submitted by DMC faculty for Transitioning Trucking’s 2022 Driving for Excellence Award.

Before Leiva started driving to maintain her mother’s legacy, she learned how to maneuver the big rigs and earned her Commercial Drivers License (CDL) on Nov. 19, 2021, from the College’s program ,which is a   member of the Women in Trucking Association and firmly supports gender equity in the profession as well as veteran drivers.

On Nov. 15, Mayor Paulette Guajardo and the Corpus Christi City Council presented Leiva with a Certificate of Commendation for being one of 11 and the only woman finalist for the 2022 Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award.

During the presentation, Leiva noted that both she and her brother were nominated for the award. “If I win, we both win,” she said after expressing her gratitude to the College’s training program for her learning experience and the nomination for the national award.

Ashley Leiva_Nov 2021 DMC Trucking Graduate_Behind the Big Wheel

The Transition Trucking initiative began in 2016 and is part of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation’s Hiring Our Heroes Program in collaboration with Kenworth and FASTPORT to address the driver shortage and create immediate jobs for the nation’s transitioning military personnel, including veterans, national guard members and reservists in the trucking industry. And, the year-long search for America’s “top military rookie driver” culminated with voting ending Nov. 11 (Veterans Day) among the top 11 individuals selected from thousands of nominees with Leiva included among those finalists.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce will announce the winner on Dec. 16 and not only present the Transition Trucking: Driving for Excellence Award but also a $155,000 Kenworth T680 Next Gen Truck, fully-equipped for comfort and safety as a “head start to their entrepreneurial career.” Criteria for the final selection includes each candidates’ successful transition from military into civilian life as a truck driver and their focus on safety in the profession.

As mother to five-year-old Olivia, Leiva wrote that her own mother inspired her to go into driving. “It made my mother feel like she ‘was on top of the world,’” she recalled her mother saying.

Leiva loves driving, too, serving as her own daughter’s inspiration as she continues her career in the trucking profession and works on her Bachelor of Arts degree in business management. That combination should take her far.

About Del Mar College

Del Mar College empowers students to achieve their dreams. We offer quality programs, individual attention, outstanding instruction through faculty with real-world experience and affordable costs to credit and noncredit students in Corpus Christi and the South Texas Coastal Bend area. Nationally recognized while locally focused, we’re ranked in the top two percent of community colleges in the country granting associate degrees to Hispanic students (Community College Week). Del Mar College focuses on offering our students programs that match current or emerging career opportunities. Whether students are interested in the fine arts, sciences, business, occupational or technical areas, students get the education they need for the future they want at Del Mar College.