Disney Aspire Alumni Series: Just Keep Swimming, Your Dreams Are Worth It

Lina Toledo

by , Manager, Employee Branding & Communications

For Rachel Johnson, Disney and sports have always been two lifelong passions. Rachel, a Disney Aspire alumni (University of Florida; MS in Communications with distinction), recently saw her hard work, perseverance, and dedication pay off when she moved from an operations assistant role at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products to ESPN as a Production Assistant on SportsCenter@Night.

Rachel’s Disney Aspire journey was encouraged upon returning to work after five intense months of treatment for an eating disorder and learning about the program. “Having a clear mind and new outlook on life, Disney Aspire felt like the perfect challenge and fresh start.”

From learning first-hand from professors that prioritize real-life experiences to developing a digital portfolio complete with knowledge and confidence, Disney Aspire has provided Rachel with tools to succeed professionally and the ability to network and promote herself successfully. This is especially important as she navigates the world of sports – one that’s traditionally been male-dominant.

“I could not be more ecstatic to be a woman in sports right now,” Rachel notes. “Women are everywhere in the business, and it’s encouraging to see that the future is wide open for the taking! It makes me incredibly proud to say I am a woman working in the sports industry!”

Disney Aspire has given Rachel timely, relevant learnings and skills within the communications field that she brings to the sports industry each day. By going back to school to get her master’s, Rachel learned even more about communications and its ability to help businesses when data and findings point towards its importance.

“Right now is an exciting time to be a woman in sports, and I cannot wait to see where my passion, drive and learnings from Disney Aspire take me within the field!”

Rachel highly encourages those considering Disney Aspire to pursue a degree. While balancing life, school and work can be challenging, the experience has been life-changing, and it’s a beautiful opportunity that Disney has given its cast members and employees. She notes a quote from Disney & Pixar’s “Finding Dory” that had helped her when times were tough – Just Keep Swimming.

“The Walt Disney Company thrives on encouraging its cast to pursue their dreams and reach new goals. That is precisely what Disney Aspire did for me. It took me on new adventures I never imagined I could conquer!”

Stay tuned to hear from more alumni on how Disney Aspire is helping them swim towards their dreams.  

Disney Aspire is the most comprehensive education investment program of its kind, offering 125+ programs at a network of educational institutions nationwide. As part of The Walt Disney Company’s commitment to supporting its employees and cast members, Disney Aspire puts #DreamsWithinReach by removing key barriers to enrollment and inspiring career mobility. For more information about Disney Aspire, including the program’s recently added HBCU(s), or to sign up, eligible Disney employees and cast members can visit aspire.disney.com.


  • Welcome to the blog Ms. Lina!

  • This is Fantastic, I graduate next month from Valencia College with a 4.0 GPA along with a Technical Certificate in Digital Media Video Production.

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