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Pitching the Future: Student Accepted to Prestigious Grad-Prep Program

May 4, 2007

Pitching the Future: Student Accepted to Prestigious Grad-Prep Program

Not every college sophomore would describe their feelings about an intensive, two-year research program with the word “stoked.”

It helps a little bit that the UC Leadership Excellence through Advanced Degrees (UC LEADS) program will let UC Merced’s Mike Oliveira live in San Francisco for the summer, just minutes from Giants Stadium by train. Oliveira is a founding member of
UC Merced’s competitive baseball cluband a big fan.

“I’ll probably be there every weekend,” said Oliveira, a bioengineering major from Turlock.

But the real pull of UC LEADS is the outstanding preparation it offers Oliveira for his academic future. This summer, he’ll work with a UC San Francisco researcher in a field of his choice - he likes biomedical imaging, cancer research and immunology - attending weekly science seminars, leading group discussions and even presenting his research at national conferences and symposia.

He’ll return to UC Merced in Fall 2007 for UC LEADS-funded work with a faculty mentor of his choice 10 to 15 hours each week. Next summer, he’ll get to choose another campus for his work, and he’ll finish his senior year with more research back in Merced.

“I’m telling everybody about this now, and my friends are excited for me,” he said. “It’s big to pitch to freshmen and sophomores, because it takes a few years to complete the program.”

He found out about UC LEADS through Professor Wei-Chun Chin, and Elizabeth Boretz in the
Student Advising and Learning Centerand Linda Zubke in the
School of Engineeringhelped him through the application process.

“Mike’s hard work paid off, and this program will open doors to almost any graduate program he chooses,” Boretz said. “We hope more of our students will apply next year.”

Oliveira said the goal of UC LEADS is preparing students for grad school and increasing Ph.D.s awarded in technical fields. The program even offers a GRE test preparation course for free.

For grad school, Oliveira is eyeing UC San Diego or UCSF - he says he can’t imagine leaving the UC system.

In the meantime, the baseball club is about to play its home opener on April 14. Will Oliveira bring back tips for his teammates after watching the Giants all summer? Stay tuned.

For more information about the UC LEADS program, see