The 16th Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort wrapped up with an amazing commencement ceremony. Leading up to the four-day event, I heard phrases like, “life-changing,” “transformative,” and “mind-blowing.” It was my first one, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but let me tell you, it lived up to the hype!
I’m forever changed by Disney Dreamers Academy, and I can only imagine how the Disney Dreamers, parents, speakers and cast members are feeling as they make their way home from the weekend of unbelievable festivities.
The 100 students, who were selected from thousands of nationwide applicants, experienced several magical moments during the career-oriented workshops, leadership seminars and presentations by celebrity guests, community leaders, educators and Disney executives.
There were several special surprise moments, ones that brought me to tears at times when select teens received “dream-come-true’’ career opportunities and experiences, such as:
The tear-jerking moment when two aspiring teen filmmakers, Dylan Jones and Madison Henderson were surprised by singer and actress Halle Bailey with a personal invitation to join her on the red carpet at the upcoming world premiere of the live-action remake of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid” in Hollywood.
The exciting experience for Octavia Carey, Keenan Burns, and Isabella Cabello, three teens interested in music careers, who were surprised by a visit from Grammy award-winning artist H.E.R., who gifted each of them an autographed guitar.
The exclusive experience for Miguel Coppedge, a student interested in a broadcast career, who was surprised by “Good Morning America” anchor, Janai Norman, with an invitation to take part in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the show from its New York studio.
And the Disney Dreamers weren’t the only ones who had their dreams come true during this year’s event. Disney Dreamers Academy celebrity ambassador Halle Bailey and Olympian and reality TV star, Sanya Richards-Ross surprised Disney cast members and thanked them for all the magic they created during the program.
On Sunday, there probably wasn’t a dry eye in the house during commencement. In addition to the emotional and moving ring ceremony, which marked the teens’ special achievement at the culmination of the event, Bailey delivered a beautiful, spot-on commencement speech that talked about why it’s important to dream and how to continue to dream even if you face adversity. Go Halle!
I will always remember my first year at Disney Dreamers Academy and I’m walking away more inspired to DREAM BIG in my own career! And that’s my hope for all the Disney Dreamers too: to be relentless in the pursuit of their dreams and to make a difference in the lives of others.