Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities

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Diversity Fellows

The Sherlock Center was one of 17 University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDDs) awarded a National Training Initiative grant by the Administration on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AIDD), in the Administration on Community Living (ACL). The grant supports the recruitment and retention of trainees from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds to participate in a fellowship experience at the UCEDD with opportunities to make systemic change through a capstone project and community-based activities. Read more about all the 2016-2017 AUCD Fellows.


Winner of the 2016 John F. Kiffney Public Service Award from the Providence Newspaper Guild, and recipient of 'One of Rhode Islanders of the Year 2015' award from Rhode Island Monthly Magazine, Omar Bah is the Founder& Executive Director of the Refugee Dream Center. He is a torture survivor, former journalist and refugee from The Gambia in West Africa. Omar is also the author of the book, Africa's Hell on Earth: The Ordeal of an African Journalist.
He represents the state of Rhode Island at the Refugee Congress of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Washington, DC. He holds a bachelor's degree in Communication Studies with a minor in political science from the University of Rhode Island, master's degree in Public Administration from Roger Williams University, and a master's in Counseling Psychology in Global Mental Health from William James College where he is currently pursuing a doctoral degree in Leadership Psychology.
Omar has completed trauma treatment certification at the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, and does trauma based therapy. Omar is immensely thankful to the United States for giving him a chance for a second life. He has now dedicated his career to supporting refugees who have passed through the same journey as him.

Reyna Zapata-Gonzalez, born in the Dominican Republic, has been living in the United States for over thirty years and has been a resident of Rhode Island most of that time. She has been working in the early childhood field for over 16 years as a literacy coach, mentor coach, course facilitator with Ready to Learn Providence and a quality improvement specialist for BrightStars. Prior to that, she worked as a head-start teacher, head teacher at a childcare center as well as its director. At present, Ms. Zapata-Gonzalez works as a preschool ESL Special-Ed teacher for the Providence School Department. For the past six years, she has been serving on the Rhode Island ELL Advisory Council. She is also a member of the Ocean State World Language Commission with the RI State senate.
Ms. Zapata-Gonzalez, a 1991 graduate of Central High School, holds two associate degrees from Community College of Rhode Island; one in Liberal Arts and the other in Early Childhood Education. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and Early Childhood Education and a master's degree in TESOL (Teaching English as a Second Language) from Rhode Island College. Currently, Ms. Zapata-Gonzalez is working on her second master's degree in Special Education at Rhode Island College.
Ms. Zapata-Gonzalez is the founder and president of the Central Knights Scholarship Fund. She is the mother of three children Joshua, Sabrina and Jahaziel Zapata.
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