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Souza Leadership Center Programs & Experiences

Every UC Merced student has the potential to engage in leadership. That means you!

The best way to develop leadership skills is simply to dive in and try! Our programs will help you explore your identity & your strengths as a leader, find your confidence, & help you identify the way you want to engage in leadership at UC Merced and beyond. Everyone's journey is different. The Souza Leadership Center is here to help. We offer two types of opportunities:

  • Leadership Experiences are comprehensive programs (1-2 years), in which students engage in leadership through projects, service trips & more. 
  • Leader Development Programs are workshops, seminars, and conferences that allow students to engage in self-exploration and learn about leadership strategies, as well as ways to increase their confidence and resilience. 

Leadership Experiences | Comprehensive, Experiential Programs


Yosemite Leadership Program (2-Year Program | Registration opens in August) Click here for more information

This program is a 2-year program focused on taking a deep dive into leadership and personal growth. Although there is an emphasis on environmental issues, this program discusses leadership in all industries and fields of interest. Students of all majors and interests are welcome and encouraged to apply! This program is a partnership with Yosemite National Park and The Souza Leadership Center, and would not be possible without the contributions of Yosemite Conversancy.

Leadership & Service Living Learning Community (LLC) (1-year program) | Click here for more information

The Leadership and Service Living Learning Community is open to first-year students willing to commit themselves to explore and develop their own leadership skills and style, understanding their personal values and learning how to ethically and effectively engage with, and in the local community. Personal engagement on a weekly basis is expected. This program is a partnership with the UC Merced Center for Community Engagement. 

Lead Pre-Health (One-Year Program - Registration opens in March)  | Click here for more information

This program provides an in-depth overview of leadership needs in the Health industry, preparing students for leadership roles in public health to address health disparities, diversity issues, and leadership challenges of the 21st Century in our healthcare system. This program is a partnership between UC Merced Center for Medical Education and Health Sciences and the Center for Career and Professional Advancement. 

RFK Young Leaders (UC Merced Chapter of National RFK Human Rights Organization)  | Click here for more information

The RFK Young Leaders is a national organization with university chapters nationawide (predominantly on the East Coast). This is their first chapter in California! This chapter launch is supported by The Office of Student Involvement, The Community Engagement Center, and The Souza Leadership Center. However, we need you, our student leaders, to take the lead! The student group has already begun to meet to discuss launching the chapter. 

Lift While You Lead (Semester-Long Program) | Click here for more information

Lift While You Lead (LWYL) is a semester-long leadership and service opportunity that connects undergraduate students at UC Merced with students in Merced and the surrounding central valley area. UC Merced students serve as mentors to high school students enrolled in Women’s Studies classes at Golden Valley High School. The small group mentoring relationship provides mentors and mentees with support, guidance, and encouragement – all with an emphasis on health, education, and leadership.

Leader Development Programs | Workshops, seminars and conferences that allow you to gain knowledge about leadership, increase your self-awareness, and learn strategies for confidence & resilience. 


UC Merced Leadership Conference |  Fall 2023 | More information coming soon! 

The annual UC Merced Leadership Conference is one of the longest-running conferences at UC Merced. The conference brings together students, alumni, and guest speakers for a full day in which students learn from speakers the many strategies and skills necessary to engage in leadership and remain life-long learners.  Details for the 2023 UC Merced Leadership Conference will be announced soon.

Bobcat Leadership Seminar (4-week program) Click here for more information

The Bobcat Leadership Seminar (BLS) is great for students interested in exploring their identities as leaders and getting more involved in leadership at UC Merced and beyond. We welcome all students, whether you are continuing your leadership journey, or you've just begun!  Bobcat Leadership Seminar is a program that has benefited first-year students, graduate students, and even seasoned entrepreneurs in the local Merced Community!

EMPOWER: Womxn's Leader Development Program (4-week program) Click here for more information

EMPOWER: Womxn's Leader Development Program is a 6-week leader development program for UC Merced Students who identify as womxn. Participants will learn specific strategies for womxn in leadership roles and how they can advocate for themselves and others.Topics include: (1) Communicating with Confidence, (2) Negotiation Skills for Leaders, (3) Decision-Making Skills for Womxn in Leadership, and more.

 Not sure where to start?

  1. Bobcat Leadership Seminar is a great place to start or relaunch your leadership journey, regardless of your level of experience. Learn more here.

  2. You can also contact someone from our team. We'd be happy to meet with you to discuss your next step in your leadership journey. Contact us.

  3. Join our Mailing List to stay up-to-date on future opportunities for leadership development. Join our Mailing List.

Additional Leadership Opportunities on Campus

There are countless additional opportunities to engage in leadership at UC Merced and beyond. Choose the path that suits your unique journey. Click here for more leadership opportunities