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Businesswoman's Gift Fuels Passion to Transform Students to Leaders

Businesswoman's Gift Fuels Passion to Transform Students to Leaders

Margo Souza, former president and CEO of Turlock's Circle H Dairy Ranch Inc., committed $1 million through a planned gift to establish an endowed fund for The Margo F. Souza Leadership Center — a multi-faceted leadership program — housed within the University of California, Merced's Office of Leadership, Service, and Career.

Souza, an alumna of Seattle University, said graduating from college enriched her life immensely. Her passion for leadership and desire to help youth led her to donate to the newest UC campus, UC Merced. She believes the leadership center can serve as a catalyst to guide students — more than 60 percent of whom are the first in the family to earn a college degree — to become strong leaders and contributing members of society.

Souza's gift is transforming UC Merced students into the San Joaquin Valley's next leaders. The leadership center encompasses a wide-range of campus leadership initiatives, including the Bobcat Leadership Seminar, Yosemite Leadership Program, and Lead Pre-Health, a partnership with UC Merced Medical Education. Programing also includes UC Merced's annual Student Leadership Conference, which has featured nationally sought-after speakers and UC Merced alumni over the years– and in which Souza has participated every year since 2013.

"We need to reinvent our future through the eyes of our youth. Over time, this university will enhance and change many lives in the Central Valley."
– Margo Souza

"I am extremely impressed with the positive attitude and entrepreneurial spirit that exists at UC Merced," Souza said. "I am deeply honored to be part of the UC Merced family."