Facing one’s fears is never easy. For Disney Aspire graduate Jennifer Ross, the courage to overcome her inner doubts has brought great rewards in her professional, academic and personal endeavors.
As the Disney University coordinator was approaching completion of her master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology from Bellevue University last summer, her professor suggested the nomination of her final thesis research paper for best graduate student formal composition. Although honored by the recognition, Jennifer initially responded to the opportunity with hesitation — until she found confidence in an unexpected source.
“[The Disney•Pixar film] ‘Luca’ came out, and it really helped me,” she said. In the movie, the quotable phrase “Silenzio Bruno” is used by Alberto, who tells the title character not to listen to the voice in his head that makes us doubt our abilities. “It’s now my mantra because I have to consistently tell myself, ‘Silenzio Bruno. Don’t be scared. Just do it.’ So, I allowed her to submit the nomination.”
Much to her delight, Jennifer received first prize for her research paper titled “Employee Engagement Crisis Effects on Remote Office Personnel.” The award was announced in the university’s special edition of its student-run publication and resulted in Jennifer’s work ultimately being published on ResearchGate, a global hub for scholarly research, articles and collaboration.
“I was absolutely thrilled,” Jennifer said. “From that moment, I’ve continued to use ‘Silenzio Bruno’ in all of my pursuits.”
Jennifer’s degree work also enabled her to transition in 2021 from a Casting Services role to her current one at Disney University. “I feel like I was 100% prepared coming out of Disney Aspire to have that interview and to be the exact perfect fit of what they were looking for.”
In her Anaheim-based role, Jennifer is a part of the team that coordinates and delivers the learning and development courses for salaried leaders and hourly cast (such as Traditions). She has been able to apply her studies to identify areas of efficiency on her teams and successfully create change where needed in the wider department. “I have knowledge of the most up-to-date [learning and development] software that we’re using here at Disney,” Jennifer said. “I’ve been able to teach some of my fellow cast members some new tools and help them to build more inclusive training presentations. Using the ‘Silenzio Bruno’ mantra, I have been able to do multiple presentations to hundreds of people on Zoom by myself, which is something I never would have done before.”
Born in El Paso, Texas, and a mother of two, Jennifer is proud to be a first-generation Latina graduate in her family. She is grateful for her Disney Aspire experience and is now giving back to the program as a mentor. “The environment that Aspire created with Bellevue was amazing. It’s so positive, and mentors actually come back. I’m currently mentoring a few participants who are going through the same program I did.”
“[Disney Aspire] changed my entire perspective, not only with education, but also with my confidence at home as well,” Jennifer said. “I am the manager of my daughter’s soccer team and have become more assertive overall. It also caused me to become more involved here at Disney, joining multiple BERGs [Business Employee Resource Groups] and collaborating on frequent Diversity Equity & Inclusion presentations to our HR casting team. Going through the Aspire program really gave me the confidence and the tools that I needed to succeed.”