Students Prepared for Success at UC Merced

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At UC Merced, preparing students for success goes well beyond the classroom. The ability to conduct hands-on research is extended to students from the moment they step foot on campus.

“Coming to UC Merced set me above the rest,” alumnus Randell Rueda said. “Here, we are able to learn how to contribute to the world. The faculty here at UC Merced are special, because they truly reach out to their students and they make sure that all opportunities that you can have as an individual are offered to you.”

UC Merced students are reaping the benefits of learning in a unique environment and enjoying close interaction with world-renowned researchers.

Rueda, who graduated in 2011 with a bachelor’s degree in biological sciences, gained valuable experience while working in Professor Jennifer Manilay’s lab, where he researched stem cells.

Randell Rueda, ’11, is using the research skills he gained on campus to pursue a medical degree from UC Davis through the UC Merced San Joaquin Valley Program in Medical Education (PRIME).
“She’s been able to not only give me a chance to do research, but she’s given me experience,” Rueda said, “experience that will be able to help me be a strong professional.”

Rueda is now in his first year at UC Davis’ School of Medicine, with the goal of coming back to the San Joaquin Valley to become a practicing physician in an underserved region.

Graduate student Maria Avila, who studies infectious diseases, started as a transfer student and took advantage of research opportunities from the moment she stepped foot on campus. That experience, she says, will benefit the community and her future.

“I had the opportunity to meet David Ojcius as an undergrad, and I started working for him actually like on the first day of class,” Avila said. “And I’m going to finish my Ph.D. in his laboratory.”

That real-world work allows students to not only perfect their particular area of expertise, but can open their eyes to using those skills in other ways while creating new opportunities.

“In the time I’ve been here, I’ve gone from wanting to just be a research scientist to now considering going into science policy, working for the federal government,” Avila said. “And who knows if I am going to stop there.”

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