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Office of Leadership, Service and Career

Lead Pre-Health

WE BELIEVE that future health leaders, ready for 21st-century challenges, are studying at UC Merced. And we've built a leader development program designed to support these aspiring leaders as they prepare for a career serving our communities.

Are you one of those leaders?

The Program 

Launched in 2021, Lead Pre-Health is a one-year leadership development program for students interested in Healthcare professions. Participants include students interested in an MD, Nursing, Optometry, Healthcare Policy, Administration, or Research, as well as Community Outreach. There are 6 2-hour Friday afternoon sessions per semester. Students also meet on their own time to complete semester-long Capstone Projects.

Objectives of Lead Pre-Health:

  • Prepare UC Merced students to become Health Care Professionals who advocate for equity in healthcare.
  • Prepare UC Merced students to become Health Care Leaders ready to take on complex healthcare challenges.
  • Increase the diversity of the healthcare workforce.

This distinguished, year-long program was launched in Spring 2021 and includes:

  • Executive leadership seminars with health care and public health leaders
  • Leader-development workshops to enhance your leadership style and skill sets
  • Team-based health care leadership projects that impact our local communities

This program is a collaboration between the following UC Merced offices:

  • The Office of Medical Education
  • Pre-health Advising, School of Natural Sciences
  • Office of Leadership, Service and Career:
    • Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center
    • Center for Career and Professional Advancement

Meet the Team

  • Thelma Hurd, MD, MPH, Director of Medical Education, UC Merced
  • Jess Évora, Associate Director, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center 
  • Erica Robbins, Director of Student Services & Pre-Health Advisor, School of Natural Sciences 
  • Robert Goodman, Career Specialist, Center for Career and Professional Advancement 
  • Hector Cuevas, Assistant Director, Center for Career and Professional Advancement 
  • Contacts: Hector Cuevas hcuevas@ucmerced.edu  |  Souza Leadership Center lead@ucmerced.edu 

Speakers & Topics Covered in Fall 2021

  • Introduction to Medical Leadership
    • Dr. Thelma Hurd, MD, MPH, Director of Medical Education, UC Merced
  • Public Health Disparities and Upstream Perspectives
    • Dr. Sergio Aguilar, MD, PhD Professor of Department of Internal Medicine, Director for Center for Reducing Health Disparities, UC Davis
  • Management in Health Care & Role Clarity for Effective Leadership
    • Dr. Matt Lee – Optometrist & Practice Owner  |  UC Merced Board of Trustees
  • Overview of Admissions to Medical School 
    • Erica Robbins, Director of Student Services & Pre-Health Advisor, School of Natural Sciences 
  • 21st-Century Leadership Skills
    • Jess Évora, Associate Director, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center  
  • Leading with CliftonStrengths
    • Lezly Juergenson, Career Specialist & Certified CliftonStrengths Coach
  • Tuckman's Stages of Group Development
    • Jess Évora, Associate Director, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center  
  • Project Management in Health Care: Challenges, Strategies, Leadership Skills
    • Jess Évora, Associate Director, Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center  
  • Introduction to Lead Pre-Health Group Projects
    • Robert Goodman, Career Specialist for School of Natural Sciences

  2020-21 Speakers Included:

  • Dr. Carrie Byington, Executive Vice President of UC Health
  • Dr. Glen Villanueva, CMO Livingston Community Health
  • Dr. Calvin Wheeler, Director, Undergraduate & Graduate Medical Education, TPMG

Program Structure:

      •  16 sessions throughout academic year
      •  All workshops will happen on Fridays 1:30p - 3:30pm. 
      •  All sessions are required. Some work outside of sessions will be required for small-group Capstone Projects. 

Distinguished Speakers: 

The most beneficial components of this experience to my learning and growth as a future health leader had to be talking to the health experts themselves. I think the engagement was so necessary to speak with real people in the field who are currently responding to something so major like a pandemic. I was able to gain a better understanding of what it really means to pursue Health and the challenges that come with it." - Spring 2021 Lead Pre-Health Participant

Strengths Assessments

"The most beneficial components of this experience to my learning and growth as a future leader were reading and doing assessments to better understand my values and the way I see things." Spring 2021, Lead Pre-Health participant

Community Impact Projects

"Working together with the other students in breakout rooms in a problem-solving capacity was a great way to retain the concepts that we learned about from the speakers. I also thought that the final project was by far the most important aspect of this program, and helped me conceptualize the issues that the Central Valley faces, as well as come up with reasonable, effective solutions to combat health inequities." - Spring 2021 Lead Pre-Health participant

Team Project Presentations

"The presentations at the end were beneficial to me because while watching the other teams present their ideas, I was able to see how others think and broaden my mindset." - Spring 2021 Lead Pre-Health participant


In order to participate, students must:

      •  Be seeking a Health and/or Public Health profession
      •  Be in their second-to-last year at UC Merced
      •  Have a 3.0 GPA or higher
      •  Be willing to commit to the full range of program requirements and activities for the entire year.


We have already accepted participants for the 2021-22 academic year.

Sign up below to be the first to know when applications open for next year.