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Students Back From Harvard, Ready to Serve Valley

June 25, 2010

Six UC Merced students from across the San Joaquin Valley to
channel leadership skills and lessons into serving the community
after a week of classes at Harvard University

Quick Facts
  • Six UC Merced students attended the Latino Leadership
    Initiative at Harvard University.
  • The students heard talks from some of the nation’s leaders
    while also building their networking and public speaking skills.
  • The students will use their skills to create a program to
    promote leadership in the San Joaquin Valley.

MERCED, Calif. — The University of California, Merced,
students participating in the Latino Leadership Initiative at
Harvard University have returned to the San Joaquin Valley
energized and ready to make a difference.

During a packed week of classes in Cambridge, Mass., students
heard lectures from some of the nation’s top leaders, including
Univisión President César Conde, businessman Farouk Shami
and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

“The Latino Leadership Initiative did a great job of making its
pioneering students well-rounded in all areas, from negotiations to
public speaking and networking to emotional intelligence,”
psychology major Jacqueline Miramontes said. “It is now our
responsibility to apply all the skills that we have learned and put
them forth to a program that will enable us to promote leadership
in our community.”

Miramontes said the UC Merced students hope to hold leadership
talks in local high schools, passing on the vital information they
received during the lectures. Another goal is to have some of the
speakers from the initiative give a talk in Merced.

UC Merced junior Rafael Maravilla with former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez
UC Merced junior Rafael Maravilla,
right, meets former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

Photo by Tom Fitzsimmons.

The Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI) is a new collaboration
between the university and Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership
in the John F. Kennedy School of Government. The program is meant
to help develop the rising generation of Latino leaders, as they’re
expected to make up 30 percent of the United States’ population by
2050. The students were at Harvard from June 12 through 18.

“We at the Harvard Kennedy School’s Center for Public Leadership
were honored to spend this very intensive week with an
extraordinary group of young leaders,” said Andy Zelleke, an LLI
faculty chair and lecturer in public policy. “The students’
intelligence, enthusiasm and commitment to changing the world made
a deep impression on all of us. We’re grateful to the leadership at
UC Merced and our other partner schools for having nominated such
immensely promising emerging leaders for the very first class of
our Latino Leadership Initiative.”

Six students from UC Merced were selected to participate in the
inaugural class after a highly selective application process. The
students are:

“UC Merced is committed to giving all our students the best
opportunities to hone their talents,” said Jane Lawrence, vice
chancellor for
student affairs.
“We knew the students would thrive at Harvard and come back ready
to help fulfill our campus’ mission of serving the Valley.”

UC Merced’s group was joined by 22 students from Loyola
Marymount University, Texas A&M International, the University
of Houston and the University of Massachusetts, Boston. UC Merced
is the only University of California campus to be part of the collaboration.

“It was truly an amazing, life-changing experience,” Dulcemaria
Anaya said. “I have never felt as empowered and ready to change the
world as I do now.”

Jesse Anaya said the other students and mentors he met while at
Harvard are among the greatest people he knows.

“The Latino Leadership Initiative is phenomenal,” he said. “It
was the single best week of my life.”

View more
information about the LLI and the students’ community
service projects as they take shape.