UC Merced Partners with Harvard University to Foster Next Generation of Latino Leadership

May 11, 2010

Six UC Merced students to join in inaugural program that will draw participants from across the nation

Quick Facts
  • UC Merced is collaborating with Harvard University for a Latino Leadership Initiative
  • Six UC Merced students will participate in the inaugural class.
  • The announcement comes less than a month after UC Merced announced that the U.S. Department of Education designated it as a Hispanic-Serving Institution

MERCED, Calif. — Six students from the University of California, Merced, will be part of the Latino Leadership Initiative (LLI), a new collaboration between the university and Harvard University'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 six UC Merced students were chosen to take part in the program after a highly selective application process. The students are:

They will be joined by 22 other seniors 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.

The inaugural LLI class will convene June 12 in Cambridge, Mass., for a weeklong program that will include classes on decision making, negotiation and public narrative — taught by leading professors from Harvard, Georgetown and Stanford — as well as sessions designed to help students develop greater self-awareness and knowledge of their own strengths and weaknesses as leaders. LLI participants will also have opportunities to build relationships with respected Latino mentors from the government, nonprofit and business sectors.

Dario E. Collado, the initiative's program manager, said Harvard was so impressed by UC Merced's applicants that they expanded the number of students accepted from five to six.

"This will be a game-changing experience for the participants," Collado said.

Regular teleconferences hosted by the Center for Public Leadership will enable the LLI participants to continue their leadership development over the ensuing academic year. In addition, the students from each of the five participating universities will work as a team to design a community service project that will be implemented in collaboration with faculty and/or administration from their home university.

"UC Merced is honored to be partnering with Harvard on the Latino Leadership Initiative, which will give our students a great opportunity to learn from many of the leading scholars in the United States, network with students from across the country and further develop their leadership skills," said Jane Fiori Lawrence, UC Merced's vice chancellor for student affairs. "Having six students involved is a testament to the quality of our student body. We look forward to working with the Center for Public Leadership for years to come."

The collaboration with Harvard comes just after UC Merced was designated as a Hispanic-Serving Institutionby the U.S. Department of Education. The university joins UC Riverside as the only two University of California campuses to receive the HSI designation.

The designation makes UC Merced eligible for a host of funding and grants from the U.S. departments of Education, Agriculture, and Housing and Urban Development. That funding would support research efforts as well as provide increases in financial aid available to students.

"The Latino community is young and growing and its success is vital for our country. We see this program as an opportunity to develop the talents of the next generation of Latino leaders and help them connect with each other to form a broader network," said David R. Gergen, professor of public service at Harvard Kennedy School and director of the Center for Public Leadership, who will be a member of the LLI's teaching team. "But instead of stealing the students from their communities, our goal is to equip them to have a deeper impact on those communities once they return — and to stay connected with them long enough to ensure that the learning sticks.

"For this vision, and also for the seed money that has enabled us to launch, we are profoundly grateful to Walter Ulloa, chairman and CEO of Entravision Communications."

View more informationabout the LLI and the students' community service projects as they take shape.

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