Youth conference in Merced to focus on health careers

aibarra@mercedsunstar.comMarch 25, 2014 

Central Valley Health Network is holding Merced’s first Growing Health Leaders Youth Conference today at UC Merced.

The conference, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., is a one-day career fair for juniors and seniors in the Merced Union High School District who are interested in pursuing jobs in the medical field.

According to conference coordinator Mao Xiong, the purpose of the conference is to give students the opportunity to learn about careers available in the health care field.

Students will get to meet and interact with 27 health care professionals, such as keynote speaker Dr. Silvia Diego from Golden Valley Health Center in Merced.

Diego was born in Tijuana, Mexico, and raised in the Central Valley, where her parents were both farmworkers. After attending Stanford University School of Medicine, she returned to the Central Valley to work for her community.

“We’re planning on having very interactive breakout sessions,” said Xiong. “We want health care professionals to share with students stories about what inspired them to enter the medical field and the obstacles they faced in the process.”

The idea for the youth conference in Merced came about after seeing the success of a similar event in Tulare County.

“We’re hoping to duplicate the success we had last year in Tulare County,” said Mao. “There was a great student turnout and a lot of great information for them.”

About 300 students are expected to attend the Merced conference.

Xiong said planning for the youth conference began in January, when the Central Valley Health Network received confirmation about funding from the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development and sponsorship from the Health Workforce Initiative.

“I hope the students take as much as they can from this event,” Mao said. “Hopefully they learn something new and discover what they want to do in the future.”

Sun-Star staff writer Ana B. Ibarra can be reached at (209) 385-2486 or aibarra@mercedsunstar.com.

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