Fifteen students from Merced County high schools experienced a bit of college life this week as part of the Junior Leadership Merced program.
The students visited UC Merced on Monday, Nov. 25, spending time with staff members from The Margo F. Souza Student Leadership Center, which hosted the group. Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Charles Nies shared his experience as a first-generation college student and discussed the concept of leading through change.
The visit also included a chance to hear from UC Merced students who described the transition to college life, their involvement in activities, and how they’ve learned to manage their time and responsibilities.
Tamalyn Ya, a senior studying applied mathematical sciences, talked about her experience as a Merced local who chose to attend UC Merced.
"Sharing my journey with fellow students from Merced County was like a breath of fresh air,” Ya said. “It was nice to reflect on how I got to where I am today and to hear about all of their personal dreams and aspirations. It left me in awe, while also feeling nostalgic as it brought me back to when I was in their shoes."
"This was more than just another college tour. ... This was a great opportunity to not only reflect but open my eyes a bit more and find some new perspective."
As part of the annual College Day experience, the Junior Leadership Merced students spent the morning at Merced College before their visit to UC Merced.
"This was more than just another college tour,” said Julianna Blevin, a senior at Livingston High School. “I feel like I gained so much insight just listening to everyone who spoke. This was a great opportunity to not only reflect but open my eyes a bit more and find some new perspective."
Nandani Patel, a junior at Atwater High School, called the experience “insightful.”
“I learned so much about college and college life, which has impacted my choices on college,” Patel said.
Junior Leadership Merced has for the past 15 years helped Merced-area youth learn about various organizations, people and programs that make up the community. The program, which is funded through sponsorships, allows local students to learn about the diverse opportunities Merced County has to offer, said Merced Police Department Sgt. Emily Foster, who leads the program.
"It’s an amazing opportunity for the students to get to know the community they live in,” Foster said.