With assistance from scholarships and support from his parents, Rafael left Puerto Rico to continue his cello studies in 1982 at Indiana University. To the right the great Cuban violinist Andres Cardenes and with him compositor and director from Costa Rica, Elbert Lechtman Steinberg and the great Mexican violinist Manuel Ramos.
At the age of 26 Rafael won the contest of the third American Congress for Cellists with then mentor Janos Starker also known as “The King Of the Cellists”.
Begins studies of Cello with Joaquín Vidaechea, former student of Pablo Casals y Gaspar Cassado at the age of twelve. At the time there was no formal student program in the Conservatory of Music for children of that age.
Graduated from Indiana University class of 1986. Rafael completed his studies under the legendary Janos Starker and Gary Hoffman at the Indiana University School of Music where upon graduation he became a member of the cello faculty.