Columbia University, 2016, Master of Science, Applied Behvioural Psychology
University of Georgia, 2012, Bachelor of Science, Special Education
Employment: Founder and CEO, Renee Oneil Center for Child Development and Research
Most successful businesses start with a single idea. However, Alum Scholar Carla Gibson’s business was born out of a desire to make a difference in The Bahamas and fueled by her love of learning.
“Working with people with special needs is my passion,” shares Carla. “It’s what I was put here to do.”
As a high school student, Carla’s love for her cousin with special needs shaped her career plans. To show her support, Carla began volunteering with Stapledon School, a public school in New Providence for students with learning challenges, and fell in love.
After realising that she’d volunteered more than 200 hours, Carla knew that she’d found her dream career.
Carla studied Special Education at The College of The Bahamas and then received a Foundations scholarship to attend University of Georgia, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Special Education.
Spurred by her thirst to learn more, Carla went on to pursue a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at Columbia University. She was thrilled to once again earn a Foundations scholarship.
“Both the university and New York are very expensive. Without a scholarship, I don’t know if I would have been able to go to Columbia.”
But the road to graduation took both funding and personal determination. Throughout graduate school, Carla taught full-time daily and then commuted for an hour to take classes.
“It was a wonderful experience,” notes Carla. “I learned that there is so much to the world. Being at Columbia showed me that anything is possible.”
Carla was excited to bring her expertise back to The Bahamas after graduation this past May.
Her plan was to return home and focus on studying for her certification to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. But word quickly got out about Carla’s experience.
“Once I returned home, everything just took off,” said Carla.
“My days are spent providing services to meet the huge need in our community. I balance my time between providing services at clients’ homes, training teachers and working with organisations like REACH (Resources and Education for Autism and Related Challenges).”
In addition to running her business, Carla is studying for her certification and preparing to open a business office in February 2017.
Although she must constantly think of ways to manage her busy schedule, Carla loves what she does, and is thankful for the help of the Foundations throughout her journey.
“I realise that a Lyford Cay Foundations scholarship impacts so many,” she reflected. “My return home is already impacting so many kids. I’m glad I came home to make a difference.”