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UC Merced students return from Harvard
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The inaugural, weeklong, Harvard University-based Latino Leadership Initiative has come to an end and the six UC Merced students chosen to attend have returned to the Central Valley.

Now they’re ready to spread their newfound knowledge with the community, creating a program to promote Valley leadership.

"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," UC Merced psychology major and LLI participant 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.”

Among the student’s goals are to hold leadership talks in local high schools, passing along information they’ve learned, and inviting speakers from the initiative to speak in Merced.

The students heard from top leaders during their week in Cambridge, Mass., including Univisión President César Conde, businessman Farouk Shami and former U.S. Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez.

Only 28 students were chosen to participate in the program, which looks to develop the rising generation of Latino leaders, after a highly selective application process. Just five colleges – UC Merced, Loyola Marymount University, Texas A&M International, the University of Houston and the University of Massachusetts, Boston – sent representatives.

The UC Merced students chosen to participate were: Dulcemaria Anaya, a junior from Merced majoring in world history; Jesse Anaya, a junior from Modesto majoring in environmental engineering; Ismael Lara, a junior from Stockton majoring in literatures and cultures; Rafael Maravilla, a junior from Planada double majoring in sociology and political science; Jacqueline Miramontes, a junior from Merced majoring in psychology; Maira Pulido, a junior from Le Grand majoring in history.

The program left a lasting impact on all the students, including Jesse Anaya.

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