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The Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center provides a variety of programs to help students develop leadership skills during their years at UC Merced. The center staff has developed a three-tier Bobcat Leader certification program and a variety of other opportunities for student leaders.

Souza Center Tier 1 Certification 

This is the frist tier of the Souza Center Leadership Certification Program. It can be compleded by joining the Souza Center and then completing one of three differen programs.

1. Completion of the Bobcat Leadership Series 

2. Completion of the CliftonStrengths Emerging Leader

3. Completion of semester one of the Yosemite Leadership Program 

Tier 1: The Bobcat Leadership Series

The Bobcat Leadership Series is an ongoing developmental program designed to answer questions such as "What is leadership?" "Who can lead?" and "What does it take to be a great leader?" by taking an in-depth look at the seven Cs of the Social Change Model of Leadership Development.

You can attend one session or the entire program. Students who complete the program by attending one session in each of the first 6 'C's, participate in at least one hour of approved community engagement, and submit a 400-500 word Social Change reflection are certified in Bobcat Leadership Tier 1 and receive exclusive "I'm a Bobcat Leader" T-shirts. They are also eligible to apply for the P.A.W.S. Leadership Seminar.

Note: Certification in the Bobcat Leadership Series is also a preferred qualification for a number of jobs in student affairs. While not required for your application, completion of BLS will give you a leg up on your competition.

The following jobs now prefer completion of the Bobcat Leadership Series  for employment:

  • Office of Student Life Souza Leadership Center Intern
  • Bright Success Center Orientation Leader
  • Office of Student Life Fraternity and Sorority Intern
  • Housing and Residence Life Resident Assistant 
  • Housing and Residence Life Lead Resident Assistant 
  • Health Promotions HEROES
  • Bright Success Center success mentors
  • Office of Student Life Clubs and Organization Intern
  • Office of Student Life Purchasing Intern
  • Office of Student Life Student Conduct Intern
  • Office of Student Life Activities and Events Intern
  • Office of Student Life Civic Leadership Intern
  • Degree Attainment for Returning and Transfer Students (DARTS) Program

Students are encouraged to sign up in advance here.

Tier 1: CliftonStrengths Emerging Leader Retreat 

The UC Merced Emerging Leader retreat is a day long leadership development program for emerging leaders at UC Merced. The program is coordinated by trained Souza Center facilitatiors and will prove to be a very powerful experience for student participants.

The retreat is based in the Clifton Strengths for Students curriculum and will assist participants in identifying and understand their top talents and develop strategies to improve and use them effectively. All participants will receive a free code to take the StrengthsFinder assessment prior to their arrival at the retreat. 

The Emerging Leader Retreat is open to 60 UC Merced Students. UC Merced staff members, falculty members, or RCO leaders can use this form to nominate emerging leaders who should take part in this program. 

Tier 1: Yosemite Leadership Program Semester One

The Yosemite Leadership Program offers unique opportunities for leadership and professional development, including a two-year leadership development experience and internships in Yosemite National Park. Participants have incredible opportunities to recreate in parks and protected lands, network with other rising and established leaders during ongoing seminars, and make their own impact through community engagement projects.

The first part elements combine to increase participants' beleife in their own abilities and inspire them to recognize their own potential. It is a series of inter-related elements that give participants a better understaning of the Social-Change Model of leadership development, their community, National Parks, the environment and themselves.

Elements include:

  1. Leadership Seminars 
  2. Wilderness and Team-Building Experiences 
  3. Speaker Series Events 
  4. Cohort Meetings
  5. Networking Opportunities 


Souza Center Tier 2 Certification 

This is the second tier of the Souza Center Leadership Certification Program. It can be completed after Tier 1 and through one of three different programs:

  1. Completion of the PAWS Leadership Seminar 
  2. Completion of the CliftonStrengths Leadership Seminar 
  3. Completion of semester two of the Yosemite Leadership Program 

Tier 2: P.A.W.S Leadership Seminar

The P.A.W.S. Leadership Seminar is a developmental program that is open to 25 students each semester. Students must have Tier 1 Certification and apply and be selected to participate in the program. The seminar helps students identify their areas of passion, learn how to take action, develop skills to maintain wellness and commit to ongoing service. Students who complete the program receive Tier 2 Bobcat Leadership Certification and a "I'm a Bobcat Leader" waterbottle.

Tier 2: CliftonStrengths Leadership Seminar 

We have officially launched the application for the inaugural CliftonStrengths Leadership Seminar. This is a new program fully centered in the CliftonStrengths Curriculum ONLY open to students who have completed the Emerging Leader Retreat. This program is a new pathway to Tier 2 Certification in the Souza Center and meets weekly throughout the semester. 

This program will benefit students in a depth discovery during the semester, in addition to two, 30 mintue coaching sessions with Steve Lerer, complementary access to your full 34 theme report ($74 value), and a new assessment called the Builder Profile 10 from Gallup. 

Tier 2: Yosemite Leadership Program Semester 2 

The second part of YLP consists of a community-based, applied capstone project ,practical leadership development curriculum, opportunities to mentor local high schoo; students, community volunteer hours and workshops. Projects are developed in partnership with community serving programs and/or UC Merced student groups, and provide students with real world experience in executing projects from design to implementation. 


Souza Center Tier 3 Certification 

This is the third tier of the Souza Center Leadership Certification Program. It can be completed after students finish Tier 2. The finall tier requires a resume review with staff in the Career Center, completion of a LinkedIn profile and through one of two different programs:

  1. Completion of the Leadership in Action Capstone
  2. Completion of the Yosemite Leadership Program Practicum 

Tier 3: Leadership In Action Capstone

The Leadership In Action Capstone Program (LIA) is an experiential development course for students who have received Tier 2 Bobcat Leader Certification.

Students in the Leadership In Action Capstone Program will integrate the leadership skills, knowledge, and capacity they developed in BLS and PAWS and create a program to benefit the campus or the surrounding community. Students will meet with center staff to develop their program and will receive up to a $150 grant upon approval. In addition to their program, students will read an article of their choosing each month; submit reflections, and a final reflection/research paper.

Students participating in the LIA program will also be invited to participate in the Leadership Luncheon Series and other events on campus.

In order to complete this program, receive certification in Bobcat Leadership Tier 3 and, receive a Leadership Center stole for graduation participants must:

  • Implement their program
  • Complete 6 monthly reflections
  • Read 6 articles on leadership
  • Submit a 5 page final reflection/research paper
  • Complete a Linkedin profile
  • Have their resumes reviewed by a Career Counselor

Tier 3: Yosemite Leadership Program Practicum

Capstone legacy projects and peer mentorship opportunities provided during the Leadership Practicum allow students to apply their skills and knowledge to creat ethe social and environmental change they want to see. 

Other Programs