RIC student chosen for fellowship at Governor's Commission on Disabilities

Lubicristin Lora was recently selected as the 2011 summer fellow for the prestigious Mary Brennan Public Policy at the Rhode Island Governor’s Commission on Disabilities (GCD).

Lubicristin Lora
Lora, a RIC senior majoring in criminal justice and sociology, is also vice president of the Advocacy and Beyond Club at RIC.

The Mary Brennan fellowship was designed to offer a student the opportunity to experience the roles and responsibilities of the GCD.

Lora’s work through the fellowship includes communicating with state officials to work on Rhode Island’s disability and accessibility policy issues, attending GCD legislative and business meetings and sending out press releases.

The fellowship has also given Lora, who has cerebral palsy, the chance to advocate for other disabled people and to participate in work that relates to her studies at RIC.

“[The fellowship] has been one of the greatest experiences of my life,” said Lora. “Seeing other disabled people through my job and experience in the public forum has made me appreciate myself. I know I am lucky I can live an independent life.”

Her main project has been organizing several community forums for people with disabilities and their families, “so their concerns and voices can be heard,” said Lora.

Keri Rossi, recruitment coordinator at the Paul V. Sherlock Center on Disabilities and advisor to Lora, brought the fellowship to her attention.

“I thought Lubi would be the perfect candidate for the job,” said Rossi. “Lubi possesses drive, enthusiasm and charm that make her a natural leader and an empowering example of self-determination.”

“Lubi has valuable first-hand experience as an individual with a disability in Rhode Island, and also a wealth of knowledge from her role as vice president of RIC’s Advocacy and Beyond Club,” continued Rossi. “As a fellow, Lubi now has the chance to put the skills she developed at RIC to use statewide under the guidance and expertise of the GCD staff.”

Liz Garofalo, coordinator of special projects in the Feinstein School of Education and Human Development at RIC, will include Lora’s fellowship experiences in the annual Feinstein Foundation report, because, she said, Lora is “an excellent example of a RIC student in public service.”

Lora will be a fellow until the end of August, and will receive RIC academic credit for an independent study for the 240 hours she will spend with the fellowship.

Lora appreciates the opportunities and experiences offered by the fellowship.

“I’m grateful for what I have, and I’m looking at me for who I am as a person, not just my disabilities,” said Lora. “I advocate for other people, I get to help people. It has made me a bigger person.”

Lora hopes to combine her knowledge from RIC with experience from the fellowship to help her continue working with and advocating for others in the future, she said.

“Some things you learn in life, you never know where they’re going to lead you,” said Lora. “I don’t know where this is going to lead me, but it has opened many doors. I feel it will help me with my future, and goals.”