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Diversity Fellows

The CDD trained three graduate students from diverse backgrounds to become leaders in the field of developmental disabilities.

Over a 12 month period, these graduate trainees:

  • Participated in interdisciplinary training under the supervision of Dr. Laura Stough, Assistant Director at the CDD.
  • Engaged in projects with researchers at the CDD.
  • Proposed presentations and attended the annual meeting of the Association of University Centers on Disability (AUCD) in 2016.
  • Participated in a graduate course that focused on diversity issues.
  • Attended workshops on diversity offered through Texas A&M.
  • Interacted with other trainees throughout the UCEDD network.
  • Disseminated the results of their activities and projects.

2016 Diversity Fellows

Dianey Leal

Bush School of Government and Public Service

Dianey Leal is a first-year graduate student at The Bush School of Government and Public Service, where she is currently pursuing her master’s in public service and administration. Through this program, she seeks to understand the capabilities required for effective and ethical management in higher education. She currently serves as one of the project leads for the school’s Public Service Organization and seats as a non-voting member for Twin City Mission, a nonprofit organization that works collectively to meet the needs of homeless individuals and families. She is also a member of the Diversity Committee under the Student Government Association. Dianey graduated from St. Edward’s University in 2015 with a double major in political science and English writing and rhetoric. This semester she will serve as a Leadership for Diversity Fellow with the Center of Disability and Development at Texas A&M University, where she will be researching policies on disability-related issues.

Jesse Cahill


Jesse entered the Biochemistry and Biophysics graduate program at Texas A&M in 2013. He joined Dr. Ryland Young’s lab to study how viruses of bacteria (bacteriophages) lyse (destroy) bacterial cells. Jesse became a Ph.D. candidate in 2014 and completed his teaching and coursework requirement in spring 2015. In addition to teaching at Texas A&M, Jesse has mentored four undergraduate researchers. As Jesse completes his Ph.D. project, he has sought additional professional development activities: Jesse is a member of the CIRTL-TAR fellows program. This program is designed for graduate students who wish to develop a project that will improve teaching outcomes. CIRTL-TAR fellows manage the project with the same research skills and experimental rigor used in their graduate studies. In spring 2016, Jesse began the CDD Graduate Fellows program and is working with Dr. Meagan Sumbera, Dr. Dalun Zhang and Dr. Laura Stough on his fellows training and research projects related to helping people with disabilities.

Jessica Walker

Industrial Organizational Psychology

Jessica Walker is a first-year graduate student in the doctorate program for Industrial/ Organizational Psychology at Texas A&M University. Jessica was one of three fellows selected by Texas A&M’s Center of Disability and Development for the Leadership Training for Diversity (LTD) fellowship program. For the past several years, Jessica has been involved with programs for disabilities (e.g. Best Buddies, Camp Champions, Mental Health Mental Retardation) and promoting diversity, such as through her position as VP of Multicultural Programming in Residential Housing Association. Jessica’s strong interest in diversity and leadership development led to her involvement with the ADVANCE Social Sciences Team at Texas A&M, which is a National Science Foundations (NSF) funded grant for the increase and advancement of women in STEM disciplines. With her research and knowledge obtained from this fellowship, Jessica’s ambition is to assist those with disabilities in the workplace.