Cape Verde cat | U.C. Davis

Chancellor Gary S. May’s guest on this month’s edition of Face to face spent six weeks learning at UC Davis without ever setting foot on campus.

Claudia Duarte Silva Gomes, a physician and director of a regional hospital in the African archipelago of Cape Verde, spoke with May remotely during her tenure as Mandela Washington Fellow last summer.

“During those six weeks, I learned a lot,” she says. “I really had no idea it would be this amazing experience, even if it was virtually.”

She was one of 30 young African leaders from 20 countries who participated in the most recent Mandela Washington Fellowship, the fifth cohort of the program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Young African Leaders Initiative and hosted by UC Davis. They spent time learning public management.

During the fellowship, Silva Gomes said, she learned from both UC Davis faculty members and others in her cohort.

“And it’s been just amazing,” she said. “I think in the last six weeks I’ve grown. I grew as a leader. And, of course, it will help me implement projects – and try to have a real impact in my field.

She was initially accepted for the 2019 scholarship, but postponed for a year. The 2020 program has been postponed, and took place virtually from June 2021. She spoke to May in July from her home country, and the two discussed their future travel plans, career goals, what they had recently read and medical advances that Silva Gomes is most looking forward to. She then asked the chancellor what advice he would give to young leaders in his cohort and beyond.

“I always tell future leaders that you have to have local impact before you can have national or global impact,” May said. “So I would say first, focus on what you can do to improve your local community, and use that as a springboard to move into other activities that can improve the nation and the continent.”

The last episode of Face to face was a special installment featuring UC President Michael V. Drake. This episode and all previous episodes are available on the Face to Face web page.