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Office of Leadership, Service and Career

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. 

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 |  Saturday, September 24, 2022 |  Click here for more information

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 2022 UC Merced Leadership Conference (scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24th) will be announced in February.

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 (6-week program) |  Click here for more information

This leadership program is open to all UC Merced students who identify as women/womxn. This program aims to empower womxn to overcome the challenges womxn face in leadership, and show womxn how they can support each other in their leadership journey. We do this through 6 weeks of programming. Although we believe men needed to be a part of the problem-solving when it comes to gender equity, this program is specifically for womxn in order to create a space for dialogue regarding shared experiences.

BOLD: Black Students Organizing for Leadership & Development (4-week program) | More info

BOLD is an interactive, student-led program in which each workshop builds upon the other workshops to create a universal understanding of leadership, unity, and advocacy from a global lense, but also with specific attention to the Black student community at UC Merced. We encourage all students who identify as Black and/or within the African Diaspora to register! This program is presented with fresh new curriculum every year so that student leaders may attend on a yearly basis. 

The LeaderShape Institute (4-day residential leadership program held in California, usually first week of June) More information

The Institute is grounded in helping individuals identify the values they hold that lead to making a difference in the communities around them. Through self-assessment, intensive small group discussions, team building challenges, and more, participants will develop a vision for something they care about. The event is held each year at Dominican University of California. The Souza Leadership Center sends a small group of student leaders to the program each summer with the hope that these student leaders will bring back what they learned to contribute to leadership in the UC Merced community. LeaderShape has been postponed, likely to return June 2023. 

 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