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Three Students Set to Explore Regional Issues in Fellowship Program

September 28, 2006

Three Students Set to Explore Regional Issues in Fellowship Program

Three UC Merced students have been chosen to be members of the 2006-2007 Great Valley Fellows Program, an innovative leadership program organized by the UC Merced Great Valley Center in Modesto.

As part of the Fellows program, students Maria Avila, Jana Mowrer and Ruben Rodriguez will first assist professors Rudy Ortiz and Srikanth Sundararajan on a childhood obesity study focused on elementary schools in Merced and Atwater.

After their work on the study, they will then spend two months with the Great Valley Center where they will gain a deeper understanding of economic, social and environmental issues facing the Central Valley, California’s fastest-growing region. In exchange for the two months of community work, these promising young people will have the chance to greatly accelerate their development as leaders.

The program will open with a fast-paced 2-week mini-road trip covering geographic, economic, historic, and cultural places of note throughout the region.

Following the tour, each student will be exposed to public policy challenges in the Valley through a two-month series of Focus Weeks on topics such as water, land use, the environment, crime, technology, and agriculture. These intense weeks include meetings, seminars and meals with policy experts, community advocates, and decision makers representing a diversity of perspectives, tours and hands-on service.

As part of the program, each Fellow will also have the chance to shadow a policy or media figure in order to give them a new perspective on Valley life.

The program has graduated more than 40 Fellows since 2003 - half of whom still remain in the Valley. This is the first time the class has been drawn from UC Merced.