In 2014, I had the surreal opportunity of being one of 100 high school students from across the United States for the Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA), an all-expense paid trip for you and your parent to visit Walt Disney World, and build a toolkit of connections, resources, and motivation to pursue your biggest dream. Applications are open for the 2017 Disney Dreamers Academy class until Oct. 31. Check out the top five reasons why you should send in your application, from a DDA graduate!
1. The Disney Dreamers Academy is a space to create invaluable, long-lasting connections.
Say what? That’s me, with NBA star Magic Johnson and of course, Mickey Mouse.
During your time at Disney Dreamers, you will be presented with a myriad of opportunities to expand your network. As a journalism student in the program, I still talk to my FEMentor, Charreah Jackson from Essence Magazine. The friends I made throughout the program are some of my closest friends today, no matter how far away we are geographically. From having dinner with Dr. Steve Perry to being within feet of Steve Harvey, the week allowed me to make valuable connections that have helped me, even two years later down the road.
2. The Disney Dreamers Academy is not just an experience for the students.
Me with my biggest inspiration, my dad.
While I was close to my dad before we took the trip, the Academy strengthened our bond like no other. During the week, my dad and I went to separate sessions. The parents got to know one another and have their own special workshops and speakers, while the students got to bond and work on their projects during their Deep Dive sessions. I will never forget the emotional impact of the commencement ceremony, where my dad put my class ring on my finger and told me how proud he was of me. It was the best moment in my entire life, and I’m so thankful to Disney for creating a special moment like that.
3. The Disney Dreamers Academy provides energy towards achieving your future ambitions.
After the Academy, I was motivated to return to my high school and host workshops about my experience.
Whether your dream is to work on Wall Street or center stage in the next Broadway hit, the Disney Dreamers Academy is an empowering space of making your dreams come true. As students, it can be draining to be constantly told no because of our age or any other external factor. The Disney Dreamers Academy provides the motivation to push through the mundane and meticulous tasks that are often inevitable in the pursuit of a dream, and energizes people to leave their unique impact on the world. A year after the Academy, I began my first magazine, published a book on Amazon, and became a red carpet host. Not too shabby, Disney.
4. During the Disney Dreamers Academy, you’ll have a lot of fun.
Me and my favorite Disney character, Mary Poppins.
It wouldn’t be a Disney Dreamers Academy if it wasn’t held at the Walt Disney Resort. Each day, you and the other Dreamers get to experience the different rides and attractions at Walt Disney World with a unique MagicBand that allows you to cut the crowds. From screaming on roller coasters to experiencing various cultures at Epcot, you’ll be able to say you had the ultimate Disney experience.
5. The Disney Dreamers Academy is your chance to take charge of your future.
Disney does not expect you to know every little detail of what you want to be when you’re older, how you’ll do it, and why you want to do it. That’s where the Academy steps in, to provide meaningful ways that you can make your dreams into schemes. At the time I applied, I had no idea that I would one day be in a university studying Public Policy and dreaming of law school. I just knew that I had a dream, that the way I share my dream is through journalism, and that I wanted to help others. For the first time, I felt genuinely in charge of my future. It is a unique experience to have your passions and ambitions validated, encouraged, and challenged by seasoned professionals in your dream industry.
I am undoubtedly indebted to the Disney Dreamers Academy for the colossal impact it has on my life today. Yet at the same time, I am conscious that if I never applied, I would have never been able to experience something as incredible as the Disney Dreamers Academy. You never know what a leap of faith, three essays, and a bit of pixie dust can do for your dreams. Give yourself the chance to try by applying by Oct. 31.
Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2014 (I know – I’m old)