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Champions Corner: Five Favorite DDA Memories

The Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2016 has a lot to look forward to in the coming months! From motivating speeches to hands-on experiences in specific fields of interest, there are more moments to treasure at DDA than you could ever imagine.


Picking a favorite memory from their DDA experience was no easy task, but the Disney Dreamers Academy Champions somehow managed to do it! Here’s what they said were some of their most inspiring moments from their DDA weekends:


Matthew Young, DDA Class of 2014

“My favorite memory from DDA would have to be when our speaker, Magic Johnson, called me out of the audience and asked me to stand up and tell him what my dream was. He then began having a conversation with me in front of the entire audience about my dream and how important it is to dedicate 100 percent every day to achieve it.”


Jonathan Johnson, DDA Class of 2015

“I really enjoyed the music production Deep Dive – collaborating with my fellow dreamers and seeing all of our ideas combined into one single body of work. We produced a song entitled “Someday” that I think could have made radio play.”


Imani McClendon, DDA Class of 2012

“My favorite DDA memory is receiving the Shooting Star Award for Courage and Constancy. One would think to be one of 100 selected to participate in the program was enough, then being one of five to receive the award and my mom being there to see me was amazing.”


Aisha Louis, DDA Class of 2013

“The night of the empowerment session all of the girls participated in was one giant sleepover and allowed us to connect and be vulnerable with one another, while having inspirational, successful and multi-dimensional women in the room offering their guidance and wisdom for navigating life. I was able to reflect and heal from a lot of past mistakes and occurrences in my life and gained powerful connections that I’ve held onto for years.”


Rachel Pence, DDA Class of 2014

“Deep Dive sessions were my favorite part of DDA. We went to the elephant habitat and learned how many details are involved in caring for these majestic animals.”


In March, a new set of Dreamers will have the chance to make their own favorite memories at Disney Dreamers Academy 2016. Watch out for more information on Dreamer News about DDA 2016 and the newest class of Dreamers!

Show More: Champions Corner: Five Favorite DDA Memories
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Announcing the class of 2016
 

Announcing the 2016 Dreamer Class

It’s a very exciting time – the students selected for the ninth annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE have been announced! In March, these students will travel to the Walt Disney World Resort during an all-expenses-paid, four-day trip that will change their lives. During the weekend, Dreamers will engage in immersive experiences and listen to renowned entrepreneurs and business leaders, teaching them how to take action on their dreams and turn them into reality.


Thousands of students apply to Disney Dreamers Academy every year, and this time was no different. The judges were blown away by the stories and accomplishments of this year’s applicants and choosing this year’s class was no easy task. But, every applicant showed their initiative and ability to dream big by applying for the program. Keep applying and keep dreaming! Jonathan Sprinkles, motivational speaker and part of the DDA Speakers Resource Group, has this message for everyone who wasn’t selected this time around.


A big congratulations to those who were selected as the ninth class of DDA! On behalf of all of the Disney Dreamers Academy judges and speakers, Essence Magazine Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor has this message for the 2016 Dreamer class.


To see the list of students selected for the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy, visit https://www.disneydreamersacademy.com/dreamers/2016/.


Stay tuned for more for more information on Dreamer News about DDA 2016 and the newest class of Dreamers!

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Announcing the class of 2016
 

Jumpstart Your Dream: Imagineering

Dex Tanksley is a project architect for Walt Disney Imagineering and a Disney Dreamers Academy speaker. As an Imagineer, he’s had the opportunity to impact the lives of others by helping design and create structures around the world, including buildings at Disney resorts in California, Florida, Paris and Shanghai.


“Everyone has a dream,” Dex says. “The difference is following through with your dream. That separates the people who are successful from the people who aren’t.”


Here’s how Dex began a career in architecture and his tips for aspiring Imagineers: http://on.fb.me/1NkrAi5

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Jumpstart Your Dream: Imagineering
 

Meeting the 2016 Champions: Imani McClendon

Imani’s been very busy since the 2012 Disney Dreamers Academy, where she received the Shooting Star Award for Courage and Constancy. Not only has she interned with The Steve and Marjorie Harvey Foundation, she’s also participated in the leadership organization Black Girls Rock and the NAACP’s ACT-SO, a yearlong achievement program for high school students. More about Imani:


Hometown:

Union, NJ


School:

Spelman College (Atlanta, GA)


Major of Study:

Major: Economics

Minor: Management and Organization


Disney Dreamers Academy Class:

2012


Dream:

To build a successful and lifelong brand for myself through marketing and public relations that in turn motivates, inspires and encourages others to achieve their dreams and fulfill their purpose.


What is the most essential quality a Dreamer needs to be successful?

Resilience. A true dreamer will find a way to bounce back from stressors, roadblocks, detours and the many “nos” they will hear. A spirit of resilience will allow someone to press forward, follow their vision and achieve their dream no matter the trials.


Watch out for more profiles on Dreamer News as we introduce the new 2015-2016 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions and apply to Disney Dreamers Academy today at www.disneydreamersacademy.com/apply!

Show More: Meeting the 2016 Champions: Imani McClendon
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Meeting the 2016 Champions: Imani McClendon
 

Meet the 2016 Champions: Matthew Young

Matthew says the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy taught him the importance of hard work and perseverance when dreaming big. To achieve his dream of being a corporate lawyer or politician, Matthew is taking that advice to heart and participates in a program working with a national law firm for a hands-on experience. More about Matthew:


Hometown:

Jacksonville, FL


School:

Florida State University – College of Business


Major of Study:

Business Management


Disney Dreamers Academy Class:

2014


Dream:

To be a corporate lawyer or politician


Favorite Disney Dreamers Academy memory:

My favorite memory from DDA would have to be when Magic Johnson, during his address to the Dreamers, called me out of the audience and asked me to stand up and tell him about my dream. Magic then began having a conversation with me in front of the entire audience about my dream and how important it is to dedicate 100 percent every day to achieve it.


Watch out for more profiles on Dreamer News as we introduce the new 2015-2016 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions!

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Meet the 2016 Champions: Matthew Young
 

Champions Corner: Aisha Catches up with Dreamer Asia McCullum

Recently, Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Aisha had the chance to catch up with one of her DDA classmates, who also happens to attend the same college, and see where her journey has led her:


During the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy, Dreamer Asia McCullum had the opportunity to meet Dr. Steve Perry, and sparked a conversation that inspired her to apply for more than 70 scholarships during her senior year of high school. Asia received a full scholarship to any university of her choice as she became a Gates Millennium Scholar, a national recognition for students who show the utmost excellence in academia and leadership. Asia has paired this dedication along with several tools she gained from DDA to launch her career as a designer, business owner and entrepreneur.


Q: What was for favorite part of Disney Dreamers Academy?

A: At the graduation ceremony, I won the Dreamer of the Year award. Although I was completely surprised and nervous, it validated that my upbeat, polite, and hands-on characteristics were noticed and the mentors did not regret giving me the opportunity to be there. 


Q: What is your dream right now?

A: My dream is to be a business owner in a variety of industries. I want to start off as a fashion and costume designer. My creative work will be mission-driven and not just for the sake of making money or making "pretty" clothes. After I finish college, I want to dive into other industries like farming, aviation and technology while preparing the next generation of leaders to help manage my fashion empire.


Q: How are you continuing to pursue your dreams?

A: Over the summer, I started my first business which is a mission-driven, themed and socially responsible fashion company. I will be releasing my first collection in December, and by that time, I will be selling online and working towards being a vendor for certain retail stores across the country. My biggest tasks are showcasing next season for D.C. Fashion Week, NY Fashion Week, and hosting my own independent fashion show that will tour through Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and New York in 2016. The icing on the cake will be attending Black Enterprise's Entrepreneurs Conference in May 2016, as I have dreamt of doing since my freshman year of high school. 


Q: How did Disney Dreamers Academy change the way you think about your career goals?

A: There was a statement Steve Harvey made along the lines of, "If you want to be a flower shop owner, make sure you have the best flower shop in town." Our dreams do not need to be dusted with glitter, embellishments and rhinestones. Our dreams are never too big or too small, as long as we are happy and using our full potential. After DDA, I made sure that I align my goals not with how much recognition, popularity or awards it will earn me because there is no guarantee of fame or fortune, but what I am giving to others.


Q: What are some tips you can give to someone applying for Disney Dreamers Academy 2016?

A: Write your essay with the anticipation of learning and networking, not with the excitement of potentially experiencing Disney World, because that is not the focus of the program. Be as personal and personable as possible, open with sharing the most humorous and painful pieces of your story but also sounding like you are pleased to share your story with the world. If you are not chosen, apply again next year. I applied three years in a row until I was selected, but timing is always purposeful.

Show More: Champions Corner: Aisha Catches up with Dreamer Asia McCullum
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Champions Corner: Aisha Catches up with Dreamer Asia McCullum
 

Conquering Your Fears

Sometimes, even the smallest fear can keep you paralyzed from achieving a dream.


For Disney Dreamers Academy speaker and founder of The Sister Accord, Sonia Jackson Myles, it was her fear of dogs. While it seemed unrelated to her dream, Sonia began to realize it was one of the only obstacles holding her back. Her fear of dogs became so significant that she wasn’t able to attend events or network with others in their home if they owned a dog.


Eventually, Sonia knew she needed to overcome her fear if she wanted to achieve her dreams. Instead of finding ways to avoid it, she faced it head-on and bought a dog. Sonia says she was afraid of the dog for six months, but all her fear went away when she touched him for the first time. “Everything that I had conjured up in my mind about the experience was false,” she says.


Today, Sonia is no longer overpowered by her fear and loves her dog. She encourages other Dreamers to examine what fears are holding them back and create an action plan to overcome them.

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Conquering Your Fears
 

National Parents Day, July 26

July 26 is National Parents Day – a great time to reflect on the role of a parent in achieving a dream. For most of us, achieving a dream would be impossible without the help of our parents. However, parents are sometimes so dedicated to helping their children that they put their own dreams on hold.

According to Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, Lisa Nichols, parents should “serve from their overflow.” She encourages parents to put their dreams first and avoid pouring all their efforts into their children and being left with an “empty tank.” Children gain confidence, too, by working toward their own dreams. Everybody wins!

To all of the parents and parent figures out there – thank you for supporting all of our dreams, no matter how big or small they may be.
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Meeting the 2016 Champions: Aisha

Prior to attending the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy, Aisha says she was afraid to follow her dream of being a writer because she was always told it was an impractical career that offered no stability. On her very first day at DDA, she started to realize that being in a journalism or film-related field was her dream, and changed her mind about her entire career path. More about Aisha:

Hometown:
Miami, FL

School:
Howard University

Major of Study:
TV & Film

Disney Dreamers Academy Class:
2013

Dream:
To become a screenwriter/director and run a successful, international non-profit organization

How Disney Dreamers Academy changed her career path:
Our session with filmmaker and producer, Will Packer, encouraged me to pursue my writing through TV and film and become a screenwriter. He offered so much knowledge about how to be successful in the business and how to remain perseverant in the pursuit of one's dreams. This instilled so much ambition and drive into me. I became more determined to be successful with my writing and learn as much about the industry as I can. Consequently, I changed my entire career path because I rid myself of the fear that I was not capable of accomplishing my dreams or pursuing my gifts and I have the academy to thank for that.

Watch out for more profiles on Dreamer News as we introduce the new 2015-2016 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions!
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Making the Right Friends

Now that school has wound down, and your time is filled with summer camps, internships and jobs on the horizon, there will be plenty of opportunity to meet new people and make new friends. According to E! News co-host, Terrence J, choosing the right friends is key to achieving your dream.

It took Terrence two auditions before being selected for his former role with BET’s 106 & Park. After his first audition, some of Terrence’s friends discouraged him from trying again and said he should give up and try to get a “normal” job. Only two of his best friends believed in him and pushed him to audition again – and they’re the only two people from the group he is still friends with today.

Terrence advises, “If you surround yourself with people who motivate you and push you toward success, you have a much better chance of being successful.”

He has learned to choose his support system more carefully and encourages Dreamers to do the same. Terrence’s rule of thumb for building friendships is to associate with positive people who are willing to help you achieve your dream.

“Think of your best friend. Imagine going to your friend with a crazy idea… would they say it’s crazy or help you make it a reality?” – Terrence J
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Achieving a Dream: Perseverance

For Essence Communications president Michelle Ebanks, the key to achieving her dreams was perseverance.

After graduating college, Michelle was excited to put her finance degree to work as a financial analyst for a media company in Los Angeles. However, what she thought would turn out to be the jumpstart to her career was actually her first failure.

One day, Michelle was called into her boss’ office and told to start looking for a new job. She knew she had been struggling, but the idea of being fired implied true defeat.

It would have been easy to walk out the door and start her job search, but instead, Michelle was motivated to do better. She explains, “The thought of quitting just woke me up. It sparked the fight that I knew was deep in me. It sparked the real belief that I had in my dream.”

Michelle resolved not to give up, but instead to conquer her current situation. She approached her position with a new mindset, worked around the clock and befriended her colleagues to learn more about every aspect of the business. Her determination to succeed resulted in a promotion and, a few years later, she was managing the entire department.

For Dreamers who are struggling on the journey to their dream, Michelle offers this advice: “When you’re ready to quit, it’s often just the beginning… Persevere and you will conquer.”
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DDA Alumni Connection: Samuel Trotter

Samuel Trotter came to the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy with big dreams for a career in photography. In his time since, he’s been using the lessons he learned at DDA to make those dreams a reality. He has his own photography business, having worked with clients such as Eminem’s Shady Records hip hop record label, Karmaloop clothing retailer, and The Source magazine.

He recently toured the Fashion Institute and Pharrell William’s Billionaire Boys Club in New York, where he hopes to move after high school to start the next chapter in his career. Here’s more on Samuel and his dream of becoming a photographer:

What was your favorite Disney Dreamers Academy moment?
My favorite moment was talking to Essence Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor during the Essence journalism Deep Dive. I hope to one day work for Essence – even if it means filling their mailboxes with five emails every day!

What inspired you to become a photographer?
I'm not sure what my inspiration was. When I first started, I looked at it as a source for extra cash, but somewhere along the way I began to appreciate it as an art form.

What do you most like to photograph?
I love people. Places and landscapes are awesome, but they’re even better with the right person’s emotion and energy to anchor them.

If you could photograph anyone, who would it be? I would love to photograph Steve Harvey; not the Steve Harvey everyone sees on TV, but his life “behind the scenes.” I was able to get a sense of his personality during Steve’s private sessions with Dreamers and by getting to know his son and Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, Wynton Harvey. I think it would be really interesting to capture that.
Show More: DDA Alumni Connection: Samuel Trotter
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Achieving a Dream: Dedication

Today, Michael Strahan is known as a hall of fame football player and successful TV host featured on several shows including Good Morning America. But as Michael told the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy it wasn’t easy getting there.


He describes his 13-year-old self as “chunky” and says his brothers often bullied him for being overweight. When they began to refer to him only as a nickname, he knew it was time to make a change. Michael didn’t want to be known by his nickname – he wanted to be “Michael.”


He was determined to become the best version of himself and started working out regularly. He maximized every moment, even doing sit ups and pushups during commercial breaks while he watched TV. His perseverance eventually transformed his body and his mind resulting in success as a high school football player and a university football scholarship.


Michael had bigger dreams though and set his sights on playing professional football. Once again, he dedicated himself to going above and beyond to maximize his potential by studying the sport. He read books and watched film of the game’s greatest players. Once again, Michael’s dedication paid off when he was drafted to play in the NFL, where he eventually became recognized as one of the game’s greatest players himself.


Although he could have retired following his football career, Michael dreamed of something more. Using the same hard work and dedication he learned as a football player, Michael turned himself into one of the most recognizable personalities on TV.


At any point, Michael could have quit, but by continuing to dream big throughout his life and dedicating himself to those dreams he has been able to go from chunky to champion.

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Special Dreamer Surprise on Steve Harvey TV Show!

Shanesia, Mary-Kate and Nicholas were recently featured on the Steve Harvey TV show, where they had the opportunity to talk with Steve about their experience at the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy, how the program impacted their lives and how it influenced them to pursue their dreams.

During the show, Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, E! News' Terrence J, made a surprise appearance and presented each student with a one-day internship matching their career goals!

Here's more about each student's dream and the internship they received:

  • Shanesia dreams of becoming a TV correspondent. She received a hands-on internship with Terrence J at E! News.
  • Mary-Kate dreams of becoming a professional dancer. She received an internship at the Millennium Dance Complex in Chicago, where she will work with one of their top-notch choreographers.
  • Nicholas dreams of becoming a professional chef. He received an internship to work alongside top chefs at RPM Italian restaurant in Chicago, which is owned by Terrence J's friend and E! News colleague, Giuliana Rancic, and her husband, Bill Rancic.

For a behind-the-scenes look at each student's Disney Dreamers Academy experience, visit Steve Harvey TV.
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Special Dreamer Surprise on Steve Harvey TV Show
 

Becoming a Disney Dreamers Academy Champion

Each year, a few Disney Dreamers Academy graduates are selected to return as peer mentors to the program at Walt Disney World Resort in March. These students, known as "Champions," also inspire Dreamers throughout the year as social media guest contributors and national spokespersons.

For Kayla, becoming a 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Champion was a way to help others by sharing her success. In addition to being a Champion, Kayla is a student at Rutgers University, acts as the editor-in-chief of her own magazine and has served as an intern for the Golf Channel. Kayla defines a Dreamer as someone who doesn't accept failure, but instead sees just another small obstacle on the road to achieving a dream. Click through to hear more on Kayla.

If you're like Kayla and want to help others achieve their dreams, apply today to be part of the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy Champion team! Applications are open until May 25 at www.disneyurl.com/DDAChampion.
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Becoming a Disney Dreamers Academy Champion
 

Apply for the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy!

Soon, if you are a high school student in the continental U.S., you can apply to join the 800 others who hold the distinction of being a Disney Dreamer! Applications for the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine open April 6 at www.disneydreamersacademy.com.

Disney Dreamers Academy will teach you how to achieve your dreams and take them even further with the help of hands-on career workshops with industry experts and inspiration from speakers, including Steve Harvey, Gospel Artist Yolanda Adams, E! News Host Terrence J, Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson and many others.

See why you should apply to the 2016 Disney Dreamers Academy at www.youtube.com.
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The Disney Dreamers Academy
 

2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Honors

One of the most significant moments during Disney Dreamers Academy's commencement is the recognition of Dreamers who have risen as leaders of their class.

Five Dreamers from the Class of 2015 were nominated by their peers for Super Star Awards, which are inspired by Walt Disney's four C's (confidence, constancy, curiosity and courage).

Congratulations to this year's Super Star Award recipients:
  • Confidence: Elizabeth N. – Waltham, MA
  • Constancy: Caysi I. – Peachtree City, GA
  • Curiosity: Ashley T. – Sandy Springs, GA
  • Courage: Nikki D. – Hampton Bays, NY
  • Dreamer of the Year: Jonathan J. – Irvington, NJ

During commencement, several Dreamers are also recognized with internships for their outstanding leadership and networking skills. For each internship, Dreamers receive all-expense-paid trips to the event location, as well as hands-on training alongside industry experts. Congratulations to the 2015 internship award recipients!

Essence Music Festival Social Media Internship (July 2-5, 2015):
  • Shanesia A. – Birmingham, AL
  • Courtney S. – Glenwood, IL

Ford Neighborhood Awards Internship (Aug. 8, 2015):
  • Ruvencia B. – Denver, CO
  • Nylah D. – Victorville, CA
  • 2014 Dreamer Pavlina O., who came back to the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy for her own radio show – Port Orange, FL
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The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy
 

The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy

From a motivational welcome ceremony featuring a special address from Walt Disney World President George Kalogridis, to an emotional commencement with final words from Steve Harvey and members of the Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group, the Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2015 experienced an unforgettable weekend of learning, networking and dreaming big.

Here's a look at this year's commencement ceremony: www.facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy/videos

To see more 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy videos visit www.facebook.com/disneydreamersacademy
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The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy
 

Disney Dreamers Academy Gets Social - Again!

For the second year, Disney Dreamers Academy featured a Social Media Challenge encouraging Dreamers to share their experience with friends and followers. The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Social Media Challenge presented by AT&T recognized a winning team, as well as three Social Media Standout awards for individual Dreamers who exhibited creativity and excellence on social media.

Congratulations this year's winners!

Team:

Team Silver (#DDAsilver) with team leader Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Cara

Social Media Standouts:

Aakilah C. – Aurora, IL
Sanah J. – Spring, TX
Gage J. – Indianapolis, IN

You can see social media posts from the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy by searching on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with #DDA2015. To see posts from the winning team, search #DDAsilver.
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Disney Dreamers Academy Gets Social Again Test
 

The Five Cs: CONSTANCY

We recently introduced the Five Cs, Disney Dreamers Academy's guiding principles for success. Here's a closer look at one of these guiding principles, constancy, and how it helps Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Shamiraca achieve her dream:

For Shamiraca, constancy means having an unchanging attitude and spirit. Because she stays focused on her dream of becoming a lawyer, Shamiraca has the strength and endurance to succeed despite any obstacles that may stand in her way.

"I display constancy in many areas, but a great example is when I maintained a high GPA," she says. To become a lawyer, Shamiraca understands the importance of doing well in school. Instead of getting sidetracked by involvement in her university's clubs and organizations, Shamiraca was able to both stay involved and earn good grades because she never lost sight of her goal. As a result, she was offered a scholarship and is another step closer to achieving her dream.

To practice constancy, Shamiraca suggests staying true to who you are. It's important to revisit your dream regularly to make sure it's what you want. If you're sure your dream will make you happy, you're more likely to have constancy in doing what it takes to get there.

"The difference in winning and losing is most often not quitting." – Walt Disney
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The Five Cs: CONSTANCY
 

Champions' Corner: Tips for the 2015 Dreamer Class

Disney Dreamers Academy is a busy weekend full of networking, career exploration and motivational activities. To help you make the most out of the experience, here are some tips from Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Alanna to help you prepare: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy
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Tips for the 2015 Dreamer Class
 

The Five Cs: CURIOSITY

We recently introduced the Five Cs, Disney Dreamers Academy's guiding principles for success. Here's a closer look at one of these guiding principles, curiosity, and how it helps Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Alanna achieve her dream:

"Curiosity means having an insatiable drive to acquire more knowledge," explains Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Alanna. As an aspiring neurosurgeon, she has seen how curiosity can lead to life-changing scientific discoveries.

During a summer program for neurosurgery studies at the University of Chicago, Alanna studied patients with seizures and was challenged to analyze the data. Because of her curiosity, Alanna explored new methods of analysis and created an innovative presentation.

"Curiosity sets you apart from your peers because you're thinking outside of the box," says Alanna. She believes achieving a dream requires experimenting not only professionally, but personally as well. Questioning your personal beliefs, motivation and goals will help you develop into a unique individual and a better leader.

"We keep moving forward, opening new doors, and doing new things, because we're curious…and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." – Walt Disney
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The Five Cs: CURIOSITY
 

Meet a Dreamer: Nylah D.

Nylah recently had the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to study abroad throughout nine European countries, but wasn't sure how to fund her trip. Instead of giving up on her dream, Nylah used her passion for baking to raise the money she needed. Nylah started her own bakery and sold more than 10,000 cupcakes to reach her fundraising goal. Now, Nylah's new goal is to use her experience as a chef and entrepreneur to change the world one plate at a time!

Here are some more facts about Nylah:

Dream: To become a scientist with a focus on food production

Hometown: Victorville, CA

Birthday Month: July

Hobbies: Singing, cooking, traveling

Fun Fact: Nylah is a motivational speaker for local youth camps and seminars
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Meet a Dreamer: Nylah D.
 

The Five Cs: COURAGE

We recently introduced the Five Cs, Disney Dreamers Academy's guiding principles for success. Here's a closer look at one of these guiding principles, courage:

For Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Cara, courage means having the strength to follow your dreams despite any obstacles that may stand in the way.

The inspirational stories Cara heard at Disney Dreamers Academy from speakers like Steve Harvey and Chef Jeff helped her to be courageous when making difficult decisions. Shortly after attending the program, Cara became a professional dancer with the Connecticut Ballet. While she was still passionate about dancing professionally, Cara began to realize that her dream of becoming a ballet dancer had changed. She made the difficult decision to change her path and is now with a dance agency pursuing her dream of performing on Broadway.

"I had to find the courage to leave a place where I was comfortable and risk it all for a new start, but it was the best decision that I could have made," she said. "Life in New York is so exciting and I already have many more opportunities there than I have anywhere else."

Cara believes all Dreamers should have the courage to stick up for themselves, their beliefs, and those they care about. She says, "Without courage, it is impossible to be able to show the world who you truly are and what you believe in."

"A true hero isn't measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart." – Hercules
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The Five Cs: COURAGE
 

Meet a Dreamer: Audrey O.

Audrey says, "I always work hard to be the best that I can be." And, her hard work is already paying off. In 2013, Audrey was recognized as a semi-finalist in the Miami Valley Regional Invention Convention's "Coolest Creations" contest and now has a patent pending for her invention.

In addition to being selected for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy, Audrey's more recent accomplishments include induction into her high school honor society and a first-place finish in the business administration category for her high school's Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) district competition. She also recently received the President's Award for Educational Excellence signed by President Obama.

Here are some more facts about Audrey:

Dream: To become an entrepreneur

Hometown: Clayton, OH

Birthday Month: November

Hobbies and Involvement: Track and field, DECA

Fun Fact: Audrey was born in Nigeria
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Meet a Dreamer: Audrey O.
 

Champions' Corner: Welcoming the Class of 2015!

The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions, Marcus, Alanna, Kayla, Cara and Shamiraca, are excited to meet the new Dreamers! During DDA weekend, Champions will serve as resources for Dreamers as they participate in this exciting journey. As alumni of the four-day program, they are also available to help prepare the new Dreamers for their trip to Walt Disney World Resort and their Disney Dreamers Academy experience.

New Dreamers interested in connecting with the Champions for tips and advice can contact them on Twitter:


On behalf of all the Champions, Shamiraca shared this special welcome message for the Dreamer class of 2015: https://www.facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy
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Champions' Corner: Welcoming the Class of 2015!
 

National Mentoring Month

January is National Mentoring Month! Whether you choose a close friend, relative or role model, take one step closer to your dream this month and find a mentor. Mentors can help you plan career goals, study for school or teach you a new skill. They are also a great resource for advice when you are faced with overcoming obstacles.

Although at age 16 he is already CEO of his own company, Disney Dreamers Academy Speaker Jaylen Bledsoe understands the importance of mentors. When making important business decisions, or when he is in need of advice, Jaylen turns to his "personal board of directors"–a group of his closest mentors, who serve as a support system.

Just as you can benefit from having a mentor, someone else can benefit from your skills and experiences as well. To learn more about being a mentor, or to find mentorship opportunities in your area, visit the MENTOR National Mentoring Partnership website.

You can join the Disney Dreamers Academy National Mentoring Month celebration on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #DDAmentor.
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National Mentoring Month
 

DDA Alumni Connection: Julia Schemmer

With a fierce passion for empowering others and newfound confidence to achieve her dreams, Julia describes her experience at the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy as the beginning of an exciting new life.

Among her most recent accomplishments is She Speaks, a lifestyle magazine aimed at empowering teens. Since the magazine's launch, Julia has received positive feedback on social media and has gotten numerous emails from student writers asking to get involved. She was even awarded a grant from the Start A Snowball organization for her work in empowering youth, which she's putting toward the start of a She Speaks radio show in 2015.

Here's more from Julia about her new role as She Speaks editor-in-chief:

What inspired you to start She Speaks?
After Disney Dreamers Academy, I became even more motivated to write. I wanted to write for my school newspaper, but was told I didn't have enough experience. So, if an opportunity wasn't available for me, I decided to create the opportunity.

What is it like to lead the team as editor-in-chief?
I'm grateful for a team that works well together. I would never say I'm the head of the organization—they're the foundation. A lot of places want writers with bachelor's degrees, but teens have a voice and should be heard.

Your first edition featured interviews from the American Music Awards. What was that experience like?
The She Speaks editor and I were the youngest ones there, so it was intimidating. But, we were surrounded by a lot of older journalists who were able to give us some tips and tricks. Some of the artists we talked to were Frankie Grande, Five Seconds of Summer, Imagine Dragons, Wyclef Jean and Luke Brian. We also saw One Direction and Taylor Swift.

In addition to She Speaks, how are you continuing to pursue your dream?
Disney Dreamers Academy gave me the courage to reach out to Sonia Jackson Myles the day after the program. We talk at least once a week and she helps me make my dream a reality. I just recently became a social media intern for her organization, The Sister Accord.

My book 20 Seconds of Insane Courage: Encouragement for the Dreamer Inside of You—which I wrote as a result of inspiration from Disney Dreamers Academy—will be released in 2015 and I will be going on a speaking tour to motivate the next generation of world changers. She Speaks is set to release another issue on January 3 and another magazine I own, Omics, will debut that day as well.

What advice would you give to someone starting their own business?
Even in the face of rejection, constantly look for opportunities to outdo yourself and pursue your dream. If something doesn't work out, find something else that does. When we were interviewing artists for the magazine, we were told "no" by a lot of managers. The key is to say "if it's not now, then when?"

For more information about Julia's enterprises, visit the She Speaks Media Enterprises website.
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DDA Alumni Connection: Julia Schemmer
 

Fun Facts About the Dreamer Class of 2015

Representing 100 out of nearly 10,000 applicants, the Disney Dreamers Academy class of 2015 is an impressive group of teens. Among them are aspiring actors, chefs, entrepreneurs, engineers, doctors and journalists—all with a passion and determination to change the world.

Here are some fun facts about the 100 new Dreamers:

  • 28 states are represented by the class of 2015
  • 13 Dreamers are from Georgia, the state with the highest representation this year; followed by 10 from Texas and 9 from Florida
  • 3,100 miles is the furthest distance a student will travel to attend Disney Dreamers Academy (Tacoma, Washington)
  • 1 Dreamer will celebrate a birthday during the Disney Dreamers Academy weekend in March (Happy birthday, Keven!)
  • 21 Dreamers are interested in starting a career in the medical field, the most popular career path amongst the students, followed by 17 Dreamers who want to start a career in business or as an entrepreneur, and 10 Dreamers who are interested in becoming an engineer

Be sure to follow Dreamer News as we continue to introduce the class of 2015!
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Fun Facts About the Dreamer Class of 2015
 

The Five Cs

"Somehow I can't believe that there are any heights that can't be scaled by a man who knows the secrets of making dreams come true. This special secret, it seems to me, can be summarized in four Cs. They are curiosity, confidence, courage, and constancy, and the greatest of all is confidence." – Walt Disney

Inspired by Walt Disney's "secrets" for making dreams come true, the Disney Dreamers Academy focuses on "Five Cs" (we added "Creativity," one of Walt's most defining characteristics!) as our formula for success:

  1. Curiosity
  2. Courage
  3. Constancy
  4. Confidence
  5. Creativity

Each year at Disney Dreamers Academy we introduce the Five Cs as guiding principles—essential path markers on their journey—that can inspire our Dreamers as they pursue their own individual goals and visions.

Over the next few weeks, we will introduce each of The Five Cs and explain why and how they work in the real world—so that you can use them to achieve your biggest and wildest dreams.

Stay tuned!

"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them." – Walt Disney
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The Five Cs
 

Announcing the 2015 Dreamer Class

The eighth annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine has just announced the 100 high school students chosen for Dreamer Class of 2015! In March 2015, these 100 outstanding young dreamers and achievers will receive an all-expense-paid, four-day trip to Walt Disney World Resort - and be exposed to a magical world of possibilities!

There were so many impressive applicants this year that the task of selecting the final 100 was difficult. Each applicant first demonstrated their ability to dream big cimply by taking the initiative to apply! We hope you'll use this site and the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page and Twitter page to follow their journey and to find inspiration and encouragement for your own dreams coming true.

Comedian, author and television host Steve Harvey and Steve Harvey Show executive producer Rushion McDonald, echoed the sentiments of all the Disney Dreamers Academy judges and speakers when they shared this special message for the 2015 Dreamer class.

Meet the Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2015. .
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Announcing the 2015 Dreamer Class
 

Judging Applications for Disney Dreamers Academy: #DDAjudging

Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group (SRG) members recently gathered in New York to review applications for the 2015 program. They were joined by special guests Rushion McDonald, executive producer of the Steve Harvey Show, and Steve Mills, general manager of the New York Knicks.

While the purpose of judging applications is to make the dreams of 100 students come true, simply being part of the process is a dream come true for Princeton Parker, Dreamers Academy alumnus and SRG member. In an Instagram post after the event, he shared some insight into his experience and how being part of the SRG has impacted his dreams:

"It's easy for me to inspire dreamers because I'm seeing the power of dreams unfold in my life. Serving on this team is a dream come true for me. Every time I sit at the table with these business, cultural, and historical game-changers, I laugh a lot, and I LEARN a whole lot. Each member is another mentor, family member, and inspiration to me. I had an amazing first time in NYC, and I can't wait for these 100 dreamers! DDA class of 2015, here we come!"

To learn about the Disney Dreamers Academy judging process and see photos from the event, follow #DDAjudging and visit our Facebook photo album. The new 100 Dreamers will be announced soon.
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Judging Applications for Disney Dreamers Academy
 

Speaker Inspiration: 4 Ps of Success

Sonia Jackson Myles, Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group member and founder of The Sister Accord, empowers each class of Dreamers with inspirational messages about sisterhood and self-confidence.

Sonia uses the "4 Ps of Success" as a guide to reaching her dreams. Watch how you can apply these principles to achieving your dreams.
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Speaker Inspiration: 4 Ps of Success
 

Giving Thanks: 5 Steps to the Perfect Letter

Thanksgiving means a delicious feast with family, time off from work and school, and expressing thanks for what you have. So, what better time to reach out to those who help you achieve your dreams and thank them for their support?

Whether you have been inspired by a teacher, friend, family member, or Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, writing a thank you note can go a long way to show someone how much you appreciate their help. Thank you letters are also a great networking tool for staying in touch with contacts who could help connect you with a future opportunity.

Here are 5 steps to writing the perfect thank-you letter:
  1. Start the letter with a greeting, such as "Dear" or "Hello."
  2. Begin the first sentence by stating what you are thanking them for.
  3. In the next sentence, add more specific details about how that person's help impacted ou and what progress you've made toward achieving your goals.
  4. End the letter by restating your gratitude.
  5. Sign the letter with a friendly signature, such as "Sincerely" or "Best regards."
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DDA Alumni Connection: Amijah Townsend-Holmes

Because of the advice she received during the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy, Amijah Townsend-Holmes was able to discover her passion for working in the communications field. Instead of pursuing the medical career path she felt pressured to explore, Amijah is now getting involved in organizations at her high school, such as student government and the African American Culture Committee, which will help her achieve her new dream.

Amijah recently had the opportunity to gain further experience in communication as she represented Disney Dreamers Academy as a special guest on the Steve Harvey Show. In this interview with the Philadelphia Tribune, Amijah talks about what it was like to be a guest on the show, as well as her journey to becoming a communications professional: http://www.phillytrib.com/the_learning_key/article_be42b931-4962-5dc8-8808-75b3cdc1ca12.html
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Amijah Townsend-Holmes
 

Disney Dreamers Academy Application Judging

On November 22, 2014, Disney Dreamers Academy's Speakers Resource Group will gather in New York City to judge applications for the 2015 program. With thousands of applications to consider, selecting the top 100 is no easy task.

Judges search for a combination of attributes, including a strong character, positive attitude and determination to achieve their dreams. Speakers Resource Group members continue to be inspired by application essays about students' personal stories, the people who are most influential in their lives and their dreams for the future.

Everyone is invited to follow along with the judges through social media on November 22, 2014 as they work through these decisions to determine the next class of Disney Dreamers Academy. Throughout the judging, Disney Dreamers Academy and Speakers Resource Group members will post updates on Twitter and Facebook to share the experience. Winners will be announced at a later date. Here's where you can follow along:

Facebook: www.facebook.com/DisneyDreamersAcademy
Twitter: www.twitter.com/DreamersAcademy and #DDAjudging

Good luck to everyone who applied for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy!
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Champions Corner: 3 Tips for a Successful College Experience

It is easy to lose sight of your dream during the transition from high school to college. The challenges of a new environment, academic expectations and social situations can make this a stressful time. As a psychology student at Morehouse College, Disney Dreamers Academy Champion Marcus is familiar with the obstacles students face on the journey to achieving a dream.

Marcus offers these 3 tips for making the most of your college experience.
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Champions Corner: 3 Tips for a Successful College Experience
 

Disney Dreamers Academy Application:
Last Chance to Apply!

October 31 is the last day you can apply to be one of 100 selected for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy! You definitely don't want to miss the chance to participate in this exclusive, once-in-a-lifetime educational program at Walt Disney World Resort.

Each year, high school students just like you have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with motivational speakers and celebrities like Steve Harvey, and participate in hands-on workshops related to the career path of their choice. Want a better idea of what you can expect? Take a look at highlights from the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy.

If you're ready to DREAM BIG, apply for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy today.
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Last Chance to Apply!
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Disney Dreamers Academy Champions Visit Circle of Sisters

Recently, Disney Dreamers Academy Champions Alanna and Shamiraca had the opportunity to share their experience at the Circle of Sisters event in New York City, which featured informative and empowering discussions for women of color, led by industry leaders and celebrities. The event also included shopping, food tasting, and performances by artists like Faith Evans and Jennifer Hudson.

While they were sharing their personal stories and tips for applying to Disney Dreamers Academy, each Champion was able to connect with prospective applicants for the 2015 program.

Alanna was most impacted by students planning to apply to the program for a second or third time. "I found this very admirable," she said. "The students' determination not to give up proved just how powerful a dream can be."

Shamiraca formed a special relationship with one young woman who recently suffered the loss of 2 close family members. Despite the student's hardship, she looked forward to applying to Disney Dreamers Academy and said it gave her the hope she needed to continue pursuing her dream.

"I loved being able to make people smile," Shamiraca said. "Every time someone saw the [Disney Dreamers Academy] booth, they would stop and point, and get excited about learning more. I felt their happiness."

Alanna and Shamiraca weren't the only Disney Dreamers Academy veterans at the event—Disney Dreamers Academy speakers Dr. Steve Perry and Dr. Alex Ellis were also there to show their support for the program and offer advice to Circle of Sisters attendees.
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Disney Dreamers Academy Champions Visit Circle of Sisters
 

Champions Corner: Meet Alanna

When Alanna arrived at the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy, she was shy and uncertain about her career goals. Throughout the program, she learned the importance of networking and grew more confident when making connections with other Dreamers and speakers. During a medical Deep Dive workshop, she met Dr. Phillip St. Louis from Associates in Neurosurgery, who inspired her to learn more about the medical field. Through that connection, Alanna decided it was her dream to become a pediatric neurosurgeon.

Following her Disney Dreamers Academy experience, Alanna was no longer afraid to take action toward achieving her goal. She was accepted to a prestigious summer program for neurosurgery studies at the University of Chicago and later received a full scholarship to study pre-medicine at her university. She continues to volunteer as a tutor and high school debate coach.

Facts about Alanna:

Hometown: Plymouth, MN

School: Xavier University

Major of Study: Biology (Pre-Medicine)

Dream: To become a pediatric neurosurgeon

Disney Dreamers Academy Class: 2013

Fun Fact: Alanna was born on Leap Day, February 29, so she celebrates her birthday every 4 years!
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Champions Corner: Meet Alanna
 

Alumni Connection: DDA Champion Kyla Catches up with Reaghan Wooster

Kayla, Disney Dreamers Academy Champion, recently caught up with fellow 2013 Dreamer Reaghan Wooster, to see how the program has impacted Reaghan's life. Here is what she learned:

As a Dreamer, Reaghan Wooster had the opportunity to meet and learn from Lamman Rucker, an actor well-known for his role in Meet the Browns, and Barbara M. Jenkins, Ed.D., Orange County Public Schools superintendent. Inspired by the insight she received from both speakers, Reaghan found a creative way to combine her acting and teaching skills with her passion for helping others. She now aspires to establish more comprehensive special education systems in developing countries and plans to use the confidence she gained during the program to engage prominent leaders in conversations for change. Here's more from Reaghan on her experience as a Dreamer and how she's continuing to pursue her dream:

Q: How would you describe your Disney Dreamers Academy experience?
A: Inspiring, empowering and influential.

Q: What are some of your favorite memories from Disney Dreamers Academy?
A: Three of my most memorable experiences were getting the chance to talk to Steve Harvey one-on-one, attending the women's empowerment session and meeting so many other amazing Dreamers who share the same passion and motivation as me.

Q: How are you continuing to pursue your dreams?
A: I'm currently a high school student and serve as a student ambassador for I Talk to Strangers, a social movement that unites various ethnic, racial, political and socio-economic groups through conversation. After high school, I hope to attend either the University of Florida or Pepperdine University.

Q: Why would you recommend Disney Dreamers Academy to other high school students?
A: It's important for students to attend Disney Dreamers Academy because, in today's society, it is easy to give in to the many temptations that surround us. The program shows young leaders the pathway to success and motivates them to continue down that path.

Do you want to discover the path to achieving your dream? Apply for your chance to join me at the next Disney Dreamers Academy: disneydreamersacademy.com/apply. Applications close October 31, 2014.
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Alumni Connection: DDA Champion Kyla Catches up with Reaghan Wooster
 

Champions Corner: Meet Shamiraca

Shamiraca was uncertain about her career goals. She didn’t know what she wanted to be, but knew she wanted to be great. Then, she joined the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy and made a self-discovery. During the program, Shamiraca attended a law workshop with Attorney Rickey Anderson and found that she had a passion for the law field. So, she enrolled in a pre-law program at her university. Today, Shamirica is studying to be a lawyer in the sports and entertainment industries. When Shamiraca was asked about her experience with Disney Dreamers Academy, she said, “It gave me the inspiration I needed to start making my dream come true.”

Facts about Shamiraca:

Hometown: Hattiesburg, MS

School: Mississippi State University

Major of Study: Pre-Law

Dream: To own a law firm specializing in the sports and entertainment industries

Disney Dreamers Academy Class: 2013

Fun Fact: Shamiraca’s favorite Disney character is Tinker Bell because she’s always willing to help others
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Champions Corner: Meet Shamiraca
 

Jumpstart Your Dream: Music Production

Ben Stellpflug is a Disney Dreamers Academy music production Deep Dive speaker. He studied music composition at the Berklee College of Music in Boston. To break into the music industry, Ben says that you don't have to perform as a professional musician, you can produce music instead. And that's what Ben did. After college, he became an associate music producer for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts.

Today, Ben uses his music background in a behind-the-scenes role to help with live entertainment shows like "Celebrate the Magic" at Disney's Magic Kingdom Park. As part of a team of music producers, he assists with the music production for stage shows, parades, nighttime spectaculars and special events. Ben combines a wide variety of music and business skills, as producers are involved in almost every part of a project—from directing and recording sessions to managing budgets and project schedules. He says, "The possibilities for a career in music production are endless!"

Ben's Top 3 Tips for Students Interested in Music Production:

  1. Become a lifelong student of your craft.
    Seek mentors and ask questions to identify and master an area of expertise in the field. What you learn becomes the vocabulary for your career.
  2. Seek opportunities for collaboration.
    Learn from peers, regardless of their experience level, because you never know who you might be working with. Your peers today could be superstars tomorrow!
  3. Get business savvy.
    A music degree provides a strong foundation for your career but you also need an understanding of business strategy. Music producers regularly use business skills to assemble creative teams, establish production goals and milestones, and facilitate communication among collaborators.

And one more piece of advice from Ben:
Professional growth comes from asking great questions, surrounding yourself with talented people and learning all sides of your business. If you take this approach, you never really stop learning.
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Jumpstart Your Dream: Music Production
 

DDA Deep Dives: Marine Biology

During Disney Dreamers Academy, students learn from Disney Cast Members, entrepreneurs and executives in immersive, hands-on workshops called Deep Dives. During a recent Deep Dive with Disney’s marine educators, Dreamers toured The Seas with Nemo & Friends Pavilion at Epcot—home to a 5.7 million-gallon saltwater aquarium. They came face-to-face with sharks to observe and analyze their behavior.

Watch their Deep Dive experience.
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DDA Deep Dives: Marine Biology
 

Champions Corner: Application Advice

In just 6-months, Disney Dreamers Academy alumna, Shamiraca, will join the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine as a Champion. She first joined Disney Dreamers Academy in 2013 when her application was chosen from thousands to be one of 100 students to participate.

Shamiraca’s Top 3 Tips for a Winning Application:

  1. Complete your application with faith and passion.
  2. Be truthful about what you write and write with an open mind.
  3. You don't have to know what you want to be, as long as you know you want to be great!

Want this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn from celebrities, world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives at the Walt Disney World Resort? Apply today!.

Applications for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy must be received by Friday, October 31, 2014.
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Champions Corner: Application Advice
 

Champions Corner: Meet Marcus

Marcus attended the 2010 Disney Dreamers Academy. After the program, he was determined to become a professional singer and use his talents to inspire others. On the journey to achieving that dream, Marcus discovered another way he could help others—to become a child psychologist. Today, he is studying child psychology and hopes to find creative ways to combine his skills.

Fact about Marcus:

Hometown: Hampton, VA

School: Morehouse College

Major of Study: Psychiatry

Dream: To become a music entertainer

Disney Dreamers Academy Class: 2010

Special Disney Dreamers Academy Moment:
Sharing with Steve Harvey that I found the confidence to overcome bullying. Steve encouraged me to remain positive and focus on my dream, regardless of what others said.

Want to meet more Disney Dreamers Academy Champions? Keep an eye out for more profiles on Dreamer News!
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Champions Corner: Meet Marcus
 

Champions Corner: 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards

Nearly 150,000 attendees gathered at the 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards in Atlanta for a weekend of music and comedy performances, educational seminars, film screenings and interactive workshops. Hosted by Steve Harvey, the event culminated with an awards show to recognize outstanding organizations for leadership and contributions in their local communities.

Disney Dreamers Academy Champions, Kayla and Marcus, attended the event and inspired others to achieve their dreams and apply for the 2015 program. One of their favorite moments was sharing their personal experiences with other students.

During the weekend, they reunited with Disney Dreamers Academy speaker and gospel star, Yolanda Adams. Also, while watching the awards show from a VIP section, they networked with celebrities such as Tracee Ellis Ross. Kayla even received an internship offer as a result of networking during the event!

Disney Dreamers Academy continues to connect students with valuable mentors and once-in-a-lifetime opportunities long after they attend the program. Want to be the next Dreamer to benefit from these resources?

Apply today: https://www.disneydreamersacademy.com/be-a-dreamer/apply/.
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Champions Corner: 2014 Ford Neighborhood Awards
 

Alumni Connection: ESSENCE Festival

What is the value of a tweet? For Dreamers Jeanine and Jordan, it meant the opportunity to earn a very special experience. For their contributions to the winning team in the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy's Twitter challenge, they were each awarded with a trip to New Orleans for a social media internship at the 2014 ESSENCE Festival in July.

During their internship at the event, Jeanine and Jordan facilitated interactions between festival vendors and guests. They helped promote social media tools and taught guests how to use Twitter. This fast-paced environment taught them to prepare for the unexpected and reinforced the importance of networking—they even passed out their Disney Dreamers Academy business cards!

Jeanine and Jordan strengthened former connections and made new ones. They reunited with Disney Dreamers Academy speakers, including Sonia Jackson Myles, Mikki Taylor and Jonathan Sprinkles. Jeanine and Jordan interacted with some of the festival's star performers and celebrities—including Tyler Perry, Angela Simmons, Chante Moore and Letoya Luckett.

Backstage, Jordan also met Alicia Keys. They talked about Alicia's philanthropy and Jordan asked her how he could get involved with it. Jordan also mentioned that he was a singer. When Alicia asked him where she could find his music, Jordan gave her a business card.

Just months after taking the time to submit an application to Disney Dreamers Academy, both Jeanine and Jordan were able to open doors and make connections they didn't think were possible.Perhaps, you'll be next?

Apply today: https://www.disneydreamersacademy.com/be-a-dreamer/apply/.
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Alumni Connection: ESSENCE Festival
 

Champions Corner: Meet Kayla

The 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy gave Kayla the confidence she needed to act on her dream. Two months after graduating from the program, Kayla launched Nubian Beauty Magazine, a publication that encourages young African American women to maximize their potential and discover their inner beauty. On her journey to becoming a successful entrepreneur, Kayla also earned opportunities to shadow the editor in chief of ESSENCE, and intern with the ESSENCE Festival and the Golf Channel. More about Kayla:

Hometown:
Somerset, NJ

School:
Rutgers University

Major of Study:
Marketing

Disney Dreamers Academy Class:
2013

Dream:
To be a successful entrepreneur that is known as one of the most powerful women of my generation.

How were you impacted by Disney Dreamers Academy?
Now, I not only create goals but think critically and analytically about them. I am able to articulately express and plan how I am going to accomplish them.

Watch out for more profiles on Dreamer News, as we introduce the new 2014-2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions!
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Champion's Corner: Meet Kayla
 

Jumpstart Your Dream: Engineering

Do you consider yourself a problem solver? Do you enjoy math and science? Then maybe a career in engineering is right for you. Walt Disney World Design and Engineering's senior planner Angel Price and mechanical engineer Lee Wilson get to problem solve at the most visited theme park in the entire world, working on projects like Seven Dwarfs Mine Train at Disney's Magic Kingdom and Lights, Motors, Action! Extreme Stunt Show at Disney's Animal Kingdom. For the past several years, they have shared their knowledge with students at Disney Dreamers Academy, providing them unique insight on what it takes to be successful in the engineering field.

Being an engineer requires a combination of leadership, interpersonal and technological skills. Here are Angel and Lee's top three tips for jumpstarting a career in engineering:

  1. Start planning today. You can begin by joining a science, technology, engineering, or math-related organization or club, and by participating in internships that provide on-the-job experience. This will provide practical experience and will help you get a job when you graduate.
  2. Do well in your classes; especially the courses related to math and science. From there, you'll be able to explore a wide range of disciplines within the engineering field. Multiple degrees are accepted for engineering roles, including bachelor's degrees in civil, computer, electrical and mechanical engineering.
  3. Whether you're solving an engineering problem or pursuing a dream, consider all your options. Your first idea may not work, so it is good to have other ideas ready. The important thing is to keep dreaming and keep trying!
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Disney Dreamers Academy: A Parent's Perspective

Since attending 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy, Amijah Townsend successfully finished her junior year of high school and volunteered at a school in Panama during her summer break. In August, Amijah will intern at the Ford Neighborhood Awards with Steve Harvey – an internship she earned at Disney Dreamers Academy. However, she isn't the only Townsend following her dreams. Amijah's mother, Aura Townsend, accompanied Amijah throughout the four-day program and was equally inspired to achieve her goals. Here, Aura shares her experience with the hope of encouraging other parents to follow their dreams:

  1. What piece of advice did you learn during Disney Dreamers Academy that you will never forget?
    Parents and guardians need to live their dreams as well. We often pour so much into others that we neglect ourselves and our dreams. Some parents said they had books to write and businesses to start, and we were all encouraged to follow through with our own dreams and goals – no matter how small – as we support and encourage our Dreamers.

  2. What is your dream? Did attending Disney Dreamers Academy inspire you to achieve your dreams as well?
    One of my dreams is to finish my thesis so I can earn my master's degree. Since attending DDA, I submitted the first draft of my thesis and I'm on my way to write more, learn Spanish and travel to do genealogical research.

  3. What advice would you give to parents who are also trying to raise and support Dreamers?
    Reach out to other trustworthy, successful parents or healthy adults for support. One of my closest friends has not given birth to children of her own, but has mothered many, so to speak. She is also the product of great parenting and has been supportive with helping me navigate parenting as a single mother. It truly takes a village.
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Disney Dreamers Academy: A Parent's Perspective
 

Champion’s Corner: Meet Cara

Cara graduated from the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy, determined to be more positive and make a difference in the lives of others. Inspired to actively pursue her passion, Cara auditioned for ballet companies with a renewed sense of confidence and was offered an apprentice position with Ballet San Antonio, a prestigious ballet company in San Antonio, Texas.

This summer, Cara will not only begin her journey as a 2014-2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Champion, but she will also move to San Antonio to begin living her dream. More about Cara:

Hometown:
Chester Springs, PA

School:
Penn State World Campus, an online college for Pennsylvania students studying abroad

Major of Study:
Advertising and Public Relations

Disney Dreamers Academy Class:
2014

Dream:
To be a professional ballerina

How were you impacted by Disney Dreamers Academy?
Overall, the Disney Dreamers Academy gave me greater confidence in myself and my talents and taught me to face life head-on with no fear of failure.

Watch out for more profiles on Dreamer News as we introduce the new 2014-2015 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions!
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Champion’s Corner: Meet Cara
 

5 Keys to Your Destiny

Mikki Taylor, Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group member and ESSENCE editor-at-large, empowers each class of Dreamers with inspirational messages about self-confidence and determination. Whether you aspire to be a Dreamer in the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy, or just need the courage to take another step toward your goal, Mikki advises, “Position yourself to possess your brightest future, starting now.”

By following Mikki’s “5 Keys to Your Destiny,” you can best position yourself by receiving the respect you deserve, staying focused on your dream and avoiding negative influences: http://bit.ly/TrOcHI.
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5 Keys to Your Destiny
 

Announcing a New Class of Champions

A new class of Disney Dreamers Academy Champions has been selected! Congratulations to the 2014-2015 Champions:

Marcus, 2010 Disney Dreamers Academy, Hampton, VA
Alanna, 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy, Plymouth, MN
Kayla, 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy, Somerset, NJ
Shamiraca, 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy, Hattiesburg, MS
Cara, 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy, Chester Springs, PA

Marcus, Alanna, Kayla, Shamiraca and Cara will represent the program as national spokespersons and social media contributors. They will continue the mission of each Champion class to showcase the success of Disney Dreamers Academy alumni and inspire future applicants.

Stay tuned to hear more from them on Dreamer News and on the Dreamers Academy Facebook and Twitter pages.
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Jumpstart Your Dream: Animation

"You can design and create and build the most wonderful place in the world. But it takes people to make the dream a reality," said Walt Disney. He knew that behind the scenes of every great Disney animated movie are talented artists who bring the movie characters to life.

Jason Peltz is one of these artists, credited with projects including The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hercules, Mushu from Mulan, Tarzan and Jumba from Lilo & Stitch. As a 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy Deep Dive speaker, Jason offered these tips for breaking into the field of animation:

  1. Practice every day. Draw every day to not only perfect your strengths, but also to work on your weaknesses. It's important to learn how to draw multiple elements – background, characters and costumes – even the things you don't like to draw. For animators, sitting in a park or going to the zoo are great places to observe and sketch body movements.

  2. Surround yourself with inspiration. Aspiring artists should watch and learn from animators like Disney's Andreas Deja, credited with Jafar from Aladdin and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast; Glen Keane, credited with Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Tarzan; and Eric Goldberg, credited with Genie from Aladdin. You can also create vision boards to explore your unique creative point of view.

  3. Create a portfolio. For job or internship applications, create a portfolio that shows a diverse range of your work. Focus on quality over the quantity of pieces. It's good to include sketches as well as finished pieces to show your thought processes.

  4. Learn how to use industry technology. New software products are closing the gap between paper and paperless drawing and are commonly found in animation studios.

Jason dreamed of working for Disney since drawing Mickey Mouse at the age of three. He graduated from Carnegie Melon with an illustration degree, later honing his skills at Jim Henson Productions, Marvel Comics, and Disney Consumer Products before moving to Chicago to pursue animation. Shortly after, Jason began working for Disney.

Since finishing work on Disney's latest 2-D feature, The Princess and the Frog, Jason has been freelancing as a Disney Storybook Artist on such books as UP, Toy Story 3 and CARS. He continues to sculpt and design for such clients as Disney Publishing, Disney Entertainment Design, Busch Gardens, Premise Entertainment, Big Idea, SPCA, and many others.

For more information about Disney Animation Studios, including internship programs and suggested courses of study, visit www.disneyanimation.com.
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DDA Speaker Profile: Lamman Rucker

Lamman Rucker may best be known as the handsome star of Tyler Perry's "Meet the Browns," but it's not just his appearance that helped him achieve success in the entertainment industry. Instead, the Disney Dreamers Academy speaker explains that he achieved his dreams with practice and perseverance.

"One of the things you have to do to be successful is practice." said Lamman. "People think you get up there and just do it. But, instead, you have to practice and practice, and practice again,".

While there were many days he would have rather been spending time with friends or enjoying another activity, Lamman continued to review scripts and hone his craft. He remained focused on his goal, relying on his passion for the industry to persevere.

As a graduate of Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, D.C., Lamman also attributes his success to having an education. When asked what his advice is for high school students pursuing their dreams, he says, "One of the most significant things that I can advise is to stay in school."

The actor emphasizes the importance of education as a way to stay out of trouble, go to college and become gainfully employed: "Education is the key to success. Education is the key to unlock a lot of other doors in your life."
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67 Minutes of Good: Nelson Mandela International Day

Nelson Mandela was one of the world's greatest dreamers. Born in Mvezo, South Africa, Mandela dreamed of equal rights and devoted his life to making a difference. Mandela achieved his dream in 1994 when he became South Africa's first democratically elected president.

In November 2009, the UN General Assembly declared July 18 "Nelson Mandela International Day" in recognition of the Nobel Peace Prize winner's contribution to the culture of peace and freedom. This year on July 18, you can celebrate Mandela's 67 years of public service by sparing 67 minutes of your time to help others. With just 67 minutes, you can contribute to a global movement for good.

Here are five suggestions from the Nelson Mandela Foundation for taking action and inspiring change:

  1. Make a new friend. Get to know someone from a different cultural background.
  2. Read to someone who can't read.
  3. Help out at a local animal shelter.
  4. Donate things you no longer use.
  5. Offer to run errands for an elderly neighbor.

To see all 67 suggestions for ways you can change the world, please refer to the Mandela Foundation.
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67 Minutes of Good: Nelson Mandela International Day
 

DDA Speaker Profile: Yolanda Adams

Yolanda Adams, gospel legend and Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, is best known for her voice, but it is her passion for youth education that brings her back to the program each year. She explains, "Children are our greatest asset, our greatest commodity; they're our richest resource and if we do not pour into them, we're going to lose the world".

Yolanda's love for inspiring youth began in Houston, Texas, where she started her career as an elementary school teacher. Leading the Southeast Inspirational Choir in her spare time, Yolanda's talents were quickly discovered by producer Thomas Whitfield. With his help, she began living her dream as the queen of gospel, using the platform to inspire a much larger audience.

Yolanda's voice has since garnered numerous American Music Awards, NAACP Image Awards, Soul Train Music Awards and BET Awards, yet she still finds time to give back through Disney Dreamers Academy and other programs inspiring young people.

One of the keys to her success is dreaming big. "Dreaming big gives you a foundation on which to start and means looking beyond where you are right now," she says. To create a strong foundation, she advises Dreamers to visualize goals and write them down. Although dreams change as you grow older, she explains, it's important to know there's something bigger out there.
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DDA Summer Networking Challenge

There is no better time than summer to start working toward your dream! This year, Disney Dreamers Academy is challenging you to use the time off from school to make new connections.

A strong support system is often the answer to achieving a dream. By continuing to grow your support system, you will have new friends and mentors to lean on for advice, as well as a larger network to turn to for career and educational opportunities.

Having the confidence to make an unforgettable first impression is often much easier said than done. Whether you're working, interning, volunteering or simply enjoying some time off this summer, these networking tips from Disney Dreamers Academy speaker Jonathan Sprinkles will help you succeed in making those key connections:

  1. Smile! People are more willing to talk to you if you look friendly.

  2. Don't just make eye contact—make an eye connection. Having the confidence to look someone in the eye lets them know they have your full attention.

  3. Be the first to introduce yourself with a handshake and remember to extend your hand out all the way. Initiating the relationship shows your eagerness to connect.

  4. Firmly give a "webshake," not a handshake. Make sure the webbed area between your index finger and thumb touches theirs.

  5. Make a strong introductory statement. Instead of simply stating your name, add an unforgettable detail about yourself. For example, you can add that you're passionate about your career interests.

To instantly connect with more than 80,000 Dreamers and supporters worldwide, visit Disney Dreamers Academy on Facebook.
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Disney Dreamers Academy: A Parent's Perspective

The Dreamers aren't the only ones who receive a once-in-lifetime opportunity when they're selected to take part in Disney Dreamers Academy. Each student gets to bring one parent or guardian along for the experience. Their 4 days at Disney Dreamers Academy provide them insight on what it takes to support a Dreamer and how they can achieve their own dreams. Mark Schemmer, father of Julia, a 2014 Dreamers Academy alumna, shared his thoughts of Disney Dreamers Academy from a parent's perspective:

How did you or your Dreamer first learn about the academy?
My wife first heard about DDA and encouraged Julia to apply last year after hearing about it on Steve Harvey's afternoon television show. My wife thought that DDA would be a great program for Julia to participate in because Julia is always looking for opportunities to lead, motivate and change her world.

What is your favorite memory from Disney Dreamers Academy?
I would have to say that it was watching Julia blossom from the outstanding experiences at DDA. Julia came back inspired and equipped to continue her dream as a future international human rights lawyer. She is also a gifted writer and has used those skills that she honed during DDA and the relationships she made at DDA to continue her writing.

What was it like to meet parents and guardians of other Dreamers?
We all enjoyed eating together, riding the buses, attending the DDA events and enjoying the theme parks. I was really surprised that none of the parents were competitive with each other. We all were so proud of not only our Dreamer but of each Dreamer and the progress each of them made which brought them closer to realizing their dreams.

How has the program impacted your dreams?
My dream has always been to be a father that sets a good example for my children and always puts them first. Before DDA, I thought that the measure of success for parenting was having your children make it through school and graduate and become gainfully employed. DDA really inspired me to understand that dreams arrive in many different forms and success can be found in many different ways.

What advice would you give to parents who are also trying to raise and support Dreamers?
After attending DDA my advice would be to not place obstacles in the way of your child trying to achieve their dreams. Until attending DDA, I never realized how differently our children regard their dreams from the adults in their lives. Our Dreamers tend to dream big, and as parents, we tend to dream safely. Our Dreamers are not as risk-adverse or afraid of failure as parents may tend to be.

Applications are now open for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy, where guest speakers will continue to inspire not only Dreamers, but their guardians as well. Encourage your Dreamer to apply today at www.disneydreamersacademy.com/be-a-dreamer/apply.
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Jumpstart Your Dream: Journalism

What does it take to become a journalist for one of the top magazines in the country and influence millions of people with your stories? Who better to find out from than Tanisha A. Sykes, senior editor and content manager for ESSENCE Magazine? Disney Dreamers Academy students interested in journalism had a chance to personally work with and learn from Tanisha during their Deep Dive session at the 2014 Academy.

She offered the following advice as the keys to achieving a dream to become a journalist:

  1. Intern as often as possible and in as many places as you can. Different experiences help give you a feel for what you love and what you don't love.

  2. Join organizations like the Society of American Business Writers and Editors or the National Association of Black Journalists and form relationships with other members. When you're ready, these people can help you find the right opportunities.

  3. Study the craft. Understand the history of journalism and where it is today, including the role of technology and what it means for journalists. Don't wait until you're entrenched in a career to understand where the market is and how you can make a difference.

  4. Meet your deadlines. Journalism is a very deadline-driven industry. It will be the mark of how you carry yourself.

  5. Get the story and get your facts. Start with the five W's: who, what, where, when and why. It's not your job to figure out what you think the story will be; it's your job to get the facts and let them tell the story.

"Don't let anyone deter you from your dream," said Tanisha. "It's one of the most important things that you can hold on to, pursue and actively try to perceive in your life. It's nobody else's job but yours to keep it moving forward."
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Champions' Corner: 2013 - 2014 Champion Reflections

As 2013 - 2014 DDA Champions, Taylor, Avery, Michael, Ebony and Brenaea experienced a year of exciting new challenges and opportunities. In this role, they got to share the lessons they learned at Disney Dreamers Academy with others, serving as advocates for the program, working as national spokespersons and as social media guest contributors for the past year. Now, as they prepare to pass the torch to the 2014-2015 Champions, these DDA alumni share some of their favorite memories:

Taylor
"My favorite memory as a Champion was seeing Disney Dreamers Academy from a new perspective. Facilitating programming was a healthy challenge for me. I also enjoyed the opportunity to inspire the Dreamers and be inspired by them in return."

Avery
"Watching as Dreamers took one step closer toward pursuing their dreams and networked with speakers, Disney Cast Members and professionals reminded me of my own experience. Their smiles were priceless."

Michael
"One of my favorite memories was coming to Disney early to practice for the upcoming year and having lunch with the Speakers Resource Group."

Ebony
"My favorite memory as a Champion would have to be connecting with four other brilliant individuals. I've been able to experience so many events and take on several projects with amazing people, and it has been nothing short of fantastic."

Brenaea
"Commencement proved to be my most memorable moment as a Champion. As I stood on the stage with my fellow champions congratulating the newest class of dreamers, I too, felt as if I were graduating from another level of DDA. The entire experience gave me deeper insight on the "magic behind the magic" and the work and sacrifice that it takes to make you dreams come true."

Disney Dreamers Academy would like to thank the 2014 Champions for their hard work and dedication! Watch this video for a look at the past year from the Champions' perspective: Here.
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Champions' Corner: 2013 - 2014 Champion Reflections
 

Jumpstart Your Dream: Entrepreneurship

At just 16-years-old, Jaylen Bledsoe is an expert in start-up businesses, entrepreneurship, Venture Capital Funding and marketing toward small and mid-sized businesses. Although he has yet to complete high school, he is the CEO and founder of Bledsoe Technologies, LLC, and manages 150 contracted employees.

This year, Jaylen took the time out of his busy schedule to address the Dreamers and shared some of his keys to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Here are three of his top tips:

  1. Have the courage to explore your passions.
    Jaylen says, "I don't work. I have a hobby that I love." He is a firm believer in mastering the skills you enjoy utilizing. When Jaylen first discovered his passion for web design, he took action toward achieving his goals and invested in resources to learn more about coding.

  2. Never give up.
    "Your past does not limit your future, but expands your knowledge on how to make your future great," he says. According to him, you should be willing to hear "no" a thousand times before you hear a "yes."

  3. Identify a support team, or a "dream team," that can offer advice during tough situations.
    Jaylen has a "personal board of directors" that help guide his decision making. He also looks to famous innovators in his industry, like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and Mark Zuckerberg, for inspiration.
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Disney Dreamers Academy Perspectives: Justin Bell

When confronted with his mother's recent kidney disease diagnosis, 2014 Disney Dreamer Academy alumnus Justin Bell saw an opportunity to help others. Justin successfully launched the Helping Individuals Needing Transplants (HINT) Foundation in January 2013, which provides comfort items to transplant patients.

Justin's motivation to apply to the Disney Dreamers Academy stemmed from his desire to extend a helping hand to kidney transplant patients around the globe. "I feel like it's my responsibility to do non-profit work and give back to people as much as I possibly can," he said during Disney Dreamers Academy 2014.

With support from the Academy, Justin learned key entrepreneurial business skills to help grow his foundation in a Deep Dive with Sonia Jackson Myles, Speakers Resource Group member and author of The Sister Accord and 16-year-old CEO of Bledsoe Technologies, Jaylen Bledsoe.

Additionally, Justin received the rare opportunity to seek guest speaker Magic Johnson's advice. Magic encouraged Justin to "always do every job to the best of your abilities." Now, as a Disney Dreamers Academy graduate, Justin is equipped with the additional tools and insights he needs to achieve his dreams.
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Disney Dreamers Academy Gets Social

The 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy introduced a new social element to the program. Five teams of Dreamers, each led by a Champion, competed in Disney Dreamers Academy's first-ever Twitter challenge. Using specific team hashtags and the #DDA2014 hashtag, each team posted quotes, shout outs and photos to earn points. The Twitter challenge allowed Dreamers' friends, family and the world to get a taste of the once-in-a-lifetime experience the Dreamers were living.

While competition was tight during the first few days of the challenge, Champion Ebony's Green Team ultimately claimed the victory, prize and bragging rights.

Two Dreamers, Jeanine Shraim and Jordan Fisher, were recognized for their social media engagement throughout the weekend. Both were awarded with a special prize from ESSENCE Magazine for contributing to the win: a social media internship for the 2014 Essence Music Festival in July.

To see what each team posted during the Twitter Challenge, follow #DDAgreen, #DDAblue, #DDAorange and #DDAyellow. You can also follow #DDA2014 to see tweets from entire 2014 program.

Find the latest Disney Dreamers Academy news and information at @dreamersacademy.
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Disney Dreamers Academy Gets Social
 

Alumni Connection: Disney Dreamers Featured on Steve Harvey Daytime Show

Carlos, Niani, Matt and Caitlin were among students who embraced the challenge to dream big at Disney Dreamers Academy 2014. In April, these Dreamers made guest appearances on the set of the Steve Harvey daytime television show, where they were given the opportunity to share their favorite Dreamers Academy moments.

Watch this video for an in-depth look at their personal Disney Dreamers Academy 2014 stories, career aspirations and experiences.
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Alumni Connection: Disney Dreamers Featured on Steve Harvey Daytime Show
 

Facts and Figures from Disney Dreamers Academy 2014

Disney Dreamers Academy 2014 was a whirlwind of networking events, educational activities and inspirational presentations. Here are some facts and figures that put many of the exciting moments and achievements into perspective:

  • 15 Career industries were represented by Deep Dives
  • It took over 1,000 Disney Cast Members to put on a DDA
  • 5 teams of Dreamers competed in the Twitter Challenge
  • More than 3,000 tweets using the hashtag #DDA2014 were tweeted over the weekend
  • 46 guest speakers dedicated their time to deliver inspirational presentations, participate in networking events and facilitate Deep Dives
  • 5 Disney Dreamers Academy awards were distributed at the graduation ceremony
  • 4 internships were awarded to Dreamers
  • A total of 40 hours of Dreamer programming was completed over the course of 4 days
  • There were 8 musical acts—including performances by Coco Jones, Tamela Mann and James Fortune
  • 4 Dreamers were able to ask Magic Johnson for advice during his keynote presentation

Though another phenomenal Disney Dreamers Academy has come to a close, the possibilities continue. Applications for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy are now available. Are you ready to live the dream? Apply today at www.disneydreamersacademy.com/be-a-dreamer
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Facts and Figures from Disney Dreamers Academy 2014
 

DDA Speaker Profiles: David and Tamela Mann

David and Tamela Mann have earned multiple awards and recognition for their acting, music and comedic works. Known for their starring roles in the sitcom Meet the Browns, the talented couple humbly addressed teens at Disney Dreamers Academy with words of encouragement and advice. The stars spoke about the importance of recognizing and utilizing one's individual talents in service of helping others.

Tamela got her start as a gospel singer with Kirk Franklin before landing leading roles in numerous Tyler Perry movies. David fostered his talent for making people laugh as his portrayal of "Mr. Brown" evolved from a stage presence, to a movie part and then a title sitcom character. Despite their collective fame, both celebrities continue to give back. In addition to their participation in Disney Dreamers Academy, they are spokespeople for the American Diabetes Association and active members in their Texas church.

Tamela continues to inspire others through her gospel music—a pleasure she shared with Disney Dreamers Academy during the graduation ceremony. "[I want] to present music that people can be blessed by and that can be healing," she said.

David hopes their insight will help Dreamers achieve their goals. "Had I known [then] what I know now, it would have made my journey much easier," he remarked.
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Jaylen Bledsoe: My DDA Experience

I've been back home from Disney Dreamers Academy for a couple of weeks now, and I have just been thinking about how awesome of an experience it was.

First off, here's a little background information on this event. Disney selects 100 "Dreamers" out of 10,000 applicants from an essay competition for the Academy. They then fly the 100 Dreamers (plus one guardian) to Walt Disney World for the 4-Day Academy, free of charge. The students go through rigorous courses where they learn more about dreams, success and experiences within their "dream" career path.

I noticed that 100 of America's best high school students were part of the Academy, which Steve later reiterated at the closing ceremony by saying that this gathering represented the top 1% of the 10,000 students who applied. While speaking during the Entrepreneurship Career Deep Dive, I met some intelligent youth who were all following their dream—whether it be becoming a non-profit executive or a stock broker.

One of the students I met, Anthony Davis, has been running a phenomenal non-profit since he was 10 years old! Isn't that amazing? Often in society, we expect our youth to care more about making and spending a dollar on themselves, rather than helping someone else out. Breaking this stereotype, over 90% of the students in the Academy wanted to start an organization to help someone else out.

Oh, and before I forget, by the time I landed back in St. Louis, Anthony had already sent me an email asking for me to become a board member of his new non-profit. Without a pause or thought about it, I said YES. While I knew that the duties of a board member may be time- consuming, I saw great potential in what Anthony's organization could do for our society, so I wanted to invest my time in his project.


After our career Deep Dive sessions, the students presented their new knowledge at this Science Fair-styled event called, "Career Open Mouse." These students spoke on topics ranging from Entrepreneurship to Culinary Arts to Disney Imagineering. This was amazing as each career Deep Dive was led by industry experts, so the students walked out with tons of knowledge and next steps.

By the time the commencement ceremony ended, everyone left with greater motivation to follow their dreams. The dreamers heard from a dozen or so celebrities about dreaming, and a dozen or so celebrities heard from 100 dreamers about dreaming. Not only was this a motivational experience for the 100 dreamers, but it was an experience for anyone that walked through the doors.

I'm sure I'm not the only person who left Walt Disney World with even more reason to push for success and follow my dreams!

I can only hope that I'm invited to speak to the Disney Dreamers Class of 2015 next year!

Hard Work Makes the Dream Work!
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Jaylen Bledsoe: My DDA Experience
 

Disney Dreamers Academy 2014 by the Numbers

The 2014 Disney Dreamers are not your average high school students. Among them are a cancer survivor, radio talk show host, business owner and movie actor. Discover some fun facts, by the number, about this impressive group of teens.

(27)
States represented at this year's event.

(15)
Students from Florida and the state with the highest representation this year.
Texas and Georgia follows with 8 students each. Then, New Jersey with 7 students.


(29)
Dreamers who aspire to help others by pursuing a career in the medical field. Careers in business and journalism follow with 6 students each.


(3)
Dreamers who started a non-profit organization.


(3)
Dreamers running their own business.


(2)
Dreamers who are published authors. Maya self-published the children's novel, The Parent Search. Julia's writing has been featured in publications like Huffington Post Teen, HerCulture, Smart Girl's Group and Girlzone.


(2)
Dreamers you can listen to on the radio. Joseph co-hosts It's Your Voice and Pavlina hosts Pavlina's Kiz Place.


(3000)
Miles that Kenya will travel to attend Disney Dreamers Academy. The trip is from Portland, Oregon to Orlando, Florida.


(35)
Maximum amount of miles that four Dreamers, living in the Orlando area, will travel to attend Disney Dreamers Academy: Jeremy, Caroline, Samantha and Madison.
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Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine
 

Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2014


By Doni Holloway, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Samuel Trotter, Dreamer 2014

The seventh annual Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) commenced Thursday, March 6, 2014, with an opening ceremony featuring a plethora of inspiration, motivation and invaluable insight from Steve Harvey, celebrity guests and professionals at the top of their fields. This year's ceremony began at the Hall of Presidents in Magic Kingdom Park.

The official welcome ceremony included a video highlighting this year's accomplished Dreamers with a variety of career interests and backgrounds. During the ceremony, photographs of Dreamers were featured in a slideshow following a video about the "magic" of Disney.

Steve Harvey, author and syndicated national television/radio personality said, "when I met with Disney seven years ago, we discussed creating the Dreamers Academy and then we joined with ESSENCE magazine to help inspire these teens. This is really an amazing opportunity." Harvey also added that he was looking forward to spending time with the Dreamers during the academy.

DDA Executive Champion Tracey Powell shared encouraging words for the weekend. "The Disney Dreamers Academy is a life-changing experience that will have an incredible impact on your future." She also encouraged Dreamers to seize the opportunities and to dream big.

Mikki Taylor, ESSENCE magazine editor-at-large, was incredibly motivating to the 2014 class. "Out of 10,000 applicants, 100 were selected. It is such a joy to be here with the Dreamers," she said.

Asia McCallum, a senior from Maryland, found the opening ceremony to be inspiring. She said "the opening ceremony was filled with so much encouragement. I knew that the week ahead would be great."

Also present to welcome the 2014 Dreamers were Michelle Ebanks, Yolanda Adams, Dr. Steve Perry, Karli Harvey, Brandi Harvey, Jonathan Sprinkles and Sonia Jackson Myles.
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Success by Networking


By Sierra Bruggink, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Samuel Trotter, Dreamer 2014

Disney Dreamers Academy offers every opportunity for Dreamers to succeed. This includes giving Dreamers an opportunity to network with mentors and professionals in their Deep Dives, or the careers that they are interested in. Networking is important because it allows Dreamers to make connections and exchange information with professionals and future mentors. It also allows Dreamers to learn about the career they want to go into and give them an idea of how their future might look.

During an hour-long networking session, Dreamers had a chance to meet 4 professionals in their Deep Dive areas. They shared their experiences and we Dreamers shared a little about our own lives and dreams, while also finding time for lots of high fives, business card exchanges and group selfies. Mentors not only shared with us info about careers their careers with us, but they also shared wisdom. One mentor was Mikki Taylor, who has been working for ESSENCE magazine for 35 years.

"If there is not the position you want available in a career... make your own field," she said.

Dreamers also had the opportunity to learn from Jonathan Sprinkles, "A Connection Coach" and motivational speaker, about how to make a good first impression. We learned how to approach a professional and how to properly shake someone's hand. Maya Palmer, whose dream is to be an animator, says the most important thing to do when first meeting people is to "make eye contact and remember to smile." Networking is an important part of career success, and with helpful tips from Jonathan Sprinkles, we are well on our way to making beneficial connections and meeting future mentors.
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Behind the Scenes with Steve Harvey


By Avia Anderson, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Samuel Trotter, Dreamer 2014

On Friday, March 6, 2014, I had my very first opportunity as a journalist. I had to report on the "Steve Harvey Morning Show," which so happens to be the No.1 radio show in America. No pressure!

I ventured out in the wee hours of the morning to Disney's BoardWalk Inn and walked into ESPN Club. The first person I met was Steve Harvey's Executive Producer and go-to man Rushion McDonald. He had a "no-nonsense personality" and went straight to the point. He taught me the importance of hustling and building a brand. Also, I was fortunate enough to be nicknamed "rookie." The entertainment industry is a very difficult field of work to get into. You have to be aggressive, quick, have a great personality and know the right people (and make sure that those people know you).

I also met one of Steve Harvey's daughters, Morgan Hawthorne. She is in charge of her dad's social media sites (Twitter and Instagram). Four other Dreamers and I took a picture, and she was so kind as to post it on Instagram. As soon as the picture went up, we Dreamers had an average of 10 follower requests and words of inspiration from other Steve Harvey followers.

My experience at the "Steve Harvey Morning Show" was a great one. When you are around everyone who is involved with the show, you feel the love because they operate like a tight-knit family. I learned a lot and I am truly grateful for this opportunity. Thank you Disney Dreamers Academy for this experience.
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Radio and TV host Steve Harvey speaks at Disney Dreamer's Academy
 

Finding Opportunities to Succeed


By Jonathon Pulliam II, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Madison Parrish, Dreamer 2014

Every year, Disney Dreamers Academy attracts a vast collection of professionals, CEOs, celebrities, educators and individuals who take time out of their schedule to work with the Dreamers—and this year was no different.

On Saturday, March 8, 2014, I had the pleasure of sitting in on Dr. Steve Perry's "Raising a Dreamer" session held with us—the Dreamers—and our parents. Perry challenged parents to realize, nurture and educate the Dreamers they're raising—as well as challenge us Dreamers to act responsibly, think positively, acknowledge the power that we possess and never shy away from the hard work that will ensue from "chasing the dream."

Perry is the founder and principal of Capital Preparatory Magnet School in Hartford, Connecticut. He has a passion for enhancing the lives of children through bettering their educational and family lives.

During his session, he did not challenge the Dreamers to simply "dream big," because according to him, "when you're dreaming, you're just thinking… but when you're doing, you're acting." He urged the Dreamers and parents alike to actively seek out the opportunities that will aid us in working toward our dreams. He said, "The difference between those who do and those who don't… is how they make their own opportunities." I asked him about the best piece of advice he had been given. He said, "Never stop looking of opportunities for success."

Perry urged us and our parents to find and create our own opportunities—whether we're inside the classroom, amongst coworkers or even amidst those more experienced. He conveyed that success is not simply determined on how much one wishes to achieve, but how hard one is willing to work for what they wish for.
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Establishing Goals Through Self-Confidence


By Kenya Spears, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Samuel Trotter, Dreamer 2014

"It doesn't matter where you start, it only matters where you choose to finish."

The Disney Dreamers Class of 2014 was given the opportunity to hear from many great people. One speaker who really struck me to strive for greatness was Jonathan Sprinkles.

Sprinkles was raised in South Central, Los Angeles in a single-parent home with his 2 sisters. As a teenager, he was caught up in the daily struggles of trying to fit in, although he was the total opposite of who he portrayed himself to be. Though enduring a rough journey, he was molded into the man he is today. As a motivational speaker, he touches the lives of many people.

"I didn't know what to do because I didn't know who I was," he said. "In my opinion, a big part of life is finding out who you are. As a teenager, we deal with many different struggles, and often times it is hard to find someone who understands and desires to help." For Sprinkles, it was his parents. "Confidence is what you say to yourself, about yourself," he said. "If you have the power, no one can make you do something, and no one can stop you from doing something.

"Whatever you think about yourself, you are going to become," he said.

The primary lesson I learned from the speaking session was to always have confidence and, more importantly, to develop self-confidence.

Along with confidence, Sprinkles shared with us that if we believe in ourselves, the possibility of achieving our dreams would become that much greater.
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History at Epcot


By Moorea Cioppa, Dreamer 2014
Photo credit: Samuel Trotter, Dreamer 2014

"We want to motivate you, and inspire you to do more and tell our story," Bernard Kinsey told Disney Dreamers on March 7, 2014 at Epcot. Kinsey and his wife, Shirley, spoke about the newest addition at Epcot, the Kinsey Collection.

The Kinsey Collection is an assemblage of rare African-American artifacts that recently went on display in the American Adventure Pavilion at Epcot. There are currently 40 to 50 artifacts on display, and pieces will be rotated every 6 months. The Kinseys and their son, Khalil, own and operate the collection.

"We didn't know enough about our culture, and that's where we got started," Bernard Kinsey said of the exhibit's beginning. "Children don't know who we are and where we came from, so shame on us!"

The authentic artifacts include paintings by celebrated artists, including Charles Ethan Porter, as well as a slave auction schedule. The collection aims to fill the "holes in American society and history… and it is succeeding.

"I'm obsessed and want to come back," enthused Jessica Wilson, a Dreamer from Tampa, Florida.

Dreamer Tamara Lee returned enlightened. "The pieces in the exhibit were extremely inspiring and helped me connect with my African-American heritage, and helped me to gain a more complete understanding of who I am," said the Jacksonville, Florida native.

While parts of the Kinsey Collection can be viewed at Epcot, you can find complete details in the book "The Kinsey Collection" and on the official website, www.thekinseycollection.com. "Having [the Kinsey Collection] in Epcot is very special," said Shirley Kinsey, "and allows African American history to be shown to the world as being a part of American history. And it won't just be studied in February, but throughout the year."
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Alumni Connection: Princeton Parker

In 2009, the Disney Dreamers Academy judges read through stacks of applications to select 100 students to participate in the 2010 Disney Dreamers Academy. One of the applications selected was Princeton Parker's.

When Princeton arrived at DDA, his impressive public speaking ability and big dreams, made quite an impression. So much so, that the following year, Princeton was invited to speak to a new group of Dreamers as a DDA alumnus. That May, he also became part of the inaugural group of Disney Dreamers Academy Champions, DDA alumni who serve as ambassadors for the program. As a Champion, Princeton spoke to thousands of people across the country about the impact that Disney Dreamers Academy had on his life. He also addressed another set of Dreamers at that year's DDA.

In 2013, Princeton's journey came full circle when he became the first Dreamer alumnus to join the program's Speaker Resource Group and judges' panel. He sat side-by-side with the same CEOs, executives and celebrities that selected his application, a few years earlier. Princeton helped select the next 100 students to become part of Disney Dreamers Academy and perhaps opened the door for the next Dreamer to join him at the judges' table.

Have a Dreamer alumni story to share?, Post it to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Princeton Parker, a Disney Dreamer Academy alumnus, takes the stage and addresses the DDA
 

DDA Champions Corner: Tips for making the most of Disney Dreamers Academy

Disney Dreamers Academy offers teens an experience of a lifetime. From our seasoned experts, DDA Champions—here are their top tips for Dreamers to get the most out of Disney Dreamers Academy.

Brenaea
"Before you arrive, consider: What makes you unique? What do you love to do and why do you love to do it? Also, how can you share this passion with others? This will make for great conversation and networking. It also serves as a confidence booster during your time at the academy."

Avery
"Always be ready to take notes. You will receive more information than your brain can handle!"

Taylor
"Prep yourself with an elevator speech. Have an idea of the goal you are trying to accomplish. You might be asked about this at any moment."

Ebony
"Network, network, network. It's very critical to know people in many professions and for them to know you, too! ALWAYS carry business cards with you. You never know what opportunities you might face!"

Michael
"Make sure to bring a good pair of walking sneakers!"

Have tips for the 2014 Class of Dreamers? Post them to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Disney Dreamers pose with Mickey Mouse in front of Cinderella Castle at Walt Disney World Resort
 

Alumni Connection: Tevyn Cole

Dreamer class of 2008 alumnus, Tevyn Cole, heard the word "no" many times, before his dream of becoming a professional dancer became a reality. Tevyn moved to Korea after college to pursue his dancing career. Despite being turned away after several dancing auditions, he never gave up. Eventually, he ended up on tour as a dancer with one of the country's most popular musicians.

Here are 3 tips from Disney Dreamers Academy that Tevyn followed for success:

1. Seek support
After being turned away from his first audition, Tevyn continued to dance. He danced every evening after work and made friends with others who shared his passion.

Tevyn said, "I made friends from around the world and we started to practice together. I talked to them about my dreams of being a backup dancer in Korea and they were very supportive of me. They encouraged me so much. I think I had the courage to go for it because of them."

2. Take a chance
In 2012, Tevyn took a leap of faith and moved to Korea. It was where he always wanted to be a dancer.

He recalled, "I moved to Korea in February of 2012 and worked as an English teacher, while dreaming of being a backup dancer and performer."

3. Network
Tevyn auditioned for a dance survival show in Korea called Dancing9. He made it to round 3 and lost to very tough, talented competition. Terrence didn't win but leveraged his new network for an opportunity.

He explained, "Using the contacts I made on the show, I networked to find more entertainment related work. Eventually, I was welcomed into JYP Entertainment (one of the top 3 entertainment companies in Korea) where I became a backup dancer for solo artist Sunmi."

More opportunities for Tevyn to dance professionally in Korea followed: at a fashion show, music awards show and on tour with some of the country's most popular musicians.

The tips Tevyn learned at DDA helped make his dream a reality. Plus, he's proof that perseverance pays off.

Have a Dreamer alumni story? Post it to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Tevyn Cole, a Disney Dreamer Academy alumnus, performs as a back-up dancer in Korea
 

DDA Speaker Profile: Terrence J

With a dream of making it big on TV, Terrence J didn't let the word "no" stand in his way. After failing to make an impression at his New York audition for BET's New Faces contest, Terrence travelled to Atlanta and gave it another shot. It paid off. He was selected as the next host of the channel's show 106 and Park. He wasn't finished chasing his dreams though. Relying on that same desire and perseverance, he launched a movie acting career and went on to star in several major Hollywood pictures. In 2012, Terrence was named host of E! News. In 2013, he wrote his first book, The Wealth of My Mother's Wisdom.

Through it all, Terrence has understood the power of sharing dreams. That is why he has been an important member of Disney Dreamers Academy Speaker Resource Group. Every year, Terrence dedicates time to search for, select and speak to a new group of Dreamers about how they can achieve their dreams.

A great piece of advice that Terrence shares is this. "It doesn't matter if you get told NO a million times. Just make sure you're ready when you hear that YES. It WILL come!"
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Celebrity Terrence Jenkins speaks at Disney Dreamers Academy empowerment session at Walt Disney World Resort
 

Champions Corner: Why Apply for Disney Dreamers Academy?

Hello Readers! My name is Ebony. I'm one of the 5 Disney Dreamer Academy Champions, and I am honored to tell you about my Disney Dreamers Academy experience.

My Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) experience opened doors and showed me a world of opportunities by allowing me to work with Chef Jeff Henderson, the renowned culinary artist. When I arrived at Walt Disney World Resort to participate in DDA, I knew I wanted to be a professional baker/cake decorator and own a bakery. I already was selling my own baked goods in my hometown. However, having the chance to personally work alongside Chef Jeff, I learned about different cooking techniques and about what it takes to actually make a career in the culinary industry. That experience broadened my perspective and provided me with the steps I needed to achieve my dream. Now, I am pursuing an education in food service and am working towards starting my own bakery!

Applying for Disney Dreamers Academy has been one of the most beneficial decisions in my life.

Take Care and Always Dream Big,

Ebony Johnson DDA Champion, 2013-2014
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Ebony Johnson & Mickey
 

Alumni Connection: Jordan Randles

Recently, Jordan Randles, a 2010 Dreamer, shared his story of how Disney Dreamers Academy impacted his life. Here is what he had to say…

"I want to thank you for that wonderful opportunity to spend at Disney World for 4 days! I would always dream, but I never knew how to actually be successful...at the time I had a 1.9 GPA and my focus was completely off of the main target. Most recently, there has been an update to the story... I graduated high school with a 3.1 GPA, and I am going to Bard College, a private liberal arts school, on full-tuition scholarship from the POSSE Foundation! Thank you so much for showing me how to realistically make my dreams come true! You're awesome Steve, and to all the people who are involved in this fantastic organization, I thank you wholeheartedly!"

We want to give a big congratulations from Disney Dreamers Academy to Jordan. Keep dreaming big and going for your dreams! Know that you are now an inspiration for others!

If you have a Dreamer alumni story you would like to share, please post it to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Jordan Randles - DDA 2010
 

Alumni Connection: Thomas Pope

2013 was a big year for Thomas Pope. In March, Thomas attended the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy. He was then selected as one of two students from that class to appear on the national TV show Steve Harvey to share his personal DDA experience. Following that, he graduated high school and started college at the University of South Carolina to become a civil engineer. However, like most of Disney Dreamer Academy alumni, Thomas had even bigger dreams. So, to round out his 2013, Thomas was recently elected president of the South Carolina NAACP's Youth & College Division. He'll serve a two-year term in the prestigious position. Congrats to Thomas on all his achievements in 2013, we can't wait to hear about what happens in 2014!

If you have a Dreamer alumni story you would like to share, please post it to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Thomas Pope - SHS
 

Champions' Corner: Top Three Disney Dreamers Academy Moments According to Avery

Disney Dreamers Academy squeezes a lot of great moments into a four-day period. For DDA Champion and accomplished photographer and musician Avery, three moments stood out as his favorites. They are:

Moment 3: The "Open Mouse" was a wonderful DDA experience. At this networking session, I had the opportunity to display the photography work I had captured during the course of the weekend, and to connect with different people from all across the country that were dreamers themselves. This experience was one of the first steps in achieving my dreams.



Moment 2: My second life changing DDA moment would be the "Deep Dive" experience, when I had the opportunity to go behind the scenes and learn how Disney uses music and photos for their evening fireworks show "Wishes." I learned how impactful music and photographs can be on an audience.



Moment 1: My top DDA moment would have to be the Jonathan Sprinkles session. He had great advice on how to network and get yourself connected. I now have the knowledge and confidence to introduce myself to anyone and to try to learn from them.

Show More: Champions' Corner: Top Three Disney Dreamers Academy Moments According to Avery
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Avery and Mickey
 

DDA Speaker Regina Hall

Every year, Disney Dreamers Academy attracts professionals across all fields to come and work with the Dreamers. From judges to doctors to CEOs to Hollywood celebrities, these people are anxious to be a part of Disney Dreamers Academy. One of them, TV and movie actress Regina Hall, shared why she believes Disney Dreamers Academy is such an important program. Watch Video.
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Rgina Hall
 

DDA Deep Dives: Veterinary Medicine

At Disney Dreamers Academy, Dreamers have the opportunity to learn about the careers they're thinking about pursuing from professionals in those fields. These sessions, known as Deep Dives, range from acting to business to journalism. For those interested in veterinary medicine, it means a behind-the-scenes look at how Disney's veterinarians keep the animals at Disney's Animal Kingdom Theme Park healthy. Watch this video to get a sneak peek at what those Dreamers experienced and to learn the trick of drawing blood from a tiger!
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Veterinary Medicine
 

The Elements of Style

Alex Ellis eats, sleeps and breathes style for a living. Through his work as CEO of Simply Ellis Custom Clothier, Alex enjoys motivating others to reach their untapped potential when it comes to creating an image. As a Disney Dreamers Academy speaker, Alex shares these lessons with students to help prepare them for success — and in turn, they inspire him to dream big.

When pursuing your dreams, dressing the part is crucial. Do you know how to manage how others perceive you? Alex explains how your image can help you command respect — or, if you're not careful, something less positive.

Check out his tips for Dreamers. Watch on YouTube
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Alex Ellis: CEO, Simply Ellis Custom Clothier
 

Champions Corner: Quiamony Gaskins - ''What's the Value of Service and Leadership?''

Are you involved in the local community? Have you demonstrated leadership while participating in public service? Such questions are commonly asked in job, college and scholarship applications to get a sense of one's experiences and character. It's often encouraged that good character reflects the selflessness and generosity revealed in our service to others. But, why should we serve others? What's the value of service and leadership?

Imagine you volunteer with a disaster response team for a community affected by a major hurricane. First, you collect information about the physical effects of the storm and the well being of individuals, and you distribute first aid supplies. Then, on behalf of that community, you communicate certain information with police officials and local government leaders. Not only have you learned the skills necessary to help this community rebuild; you also learned how important good infrastructure is to society and how it should respond to natural disasters. Lastly, you realize that you are proficient in compiling and communicating data, and you're hardworking and dependable.

Community service and leadership satisfies more than college and career ambitions, and it's about more than caring for the welfare of other humans. Essentially, we are learning, through engagement in social issues and with other people, how to build bridges between diverse individuals and organizations, as well as ourselves and the society in which we live. These connections help us sustain our lives and achieve our dreams. Furthermore, the extent of your civic engagement can indicate to others that you are a very self-aware, cultured, generous and responsible person.

To become involved in your community, you can volunteer with already established organizations and institutions (non-profit organizations, civic leagues, local hospitals, schools, etc.). Call or e-mail the organization's representative — or visit them, in person — to learn about volunteer opportunities. Secondly, if you feel that certain causes have not received attention, or that the missions of pre-established organizations don't align with your principles, create and lead your own group or organization to serve the community. This is a great way of demonstrating initiative and leadership. Determine your organization's cause and create a mission statement and guidelines. Don't hesitate to ask for help if you need guidance on how to lead your public service organization.
Show More: Champions Corner: Quiamony Gaskins - ''What's the Value of Service and Leadership?''
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Quiamony Gaskins
 

Disney at Essence

The 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions had a wonderful weekend at the Essence Music Festival in July. In addition to seeing great musical performances by Beyoncé, Emeli Sandé and LL Cool J, the Champions spent the weekend spreading the word about what Disney Dreamers Academy can do for high school students.

Ebony, Michael, Brenaea and Taylor talked with the festival's attendees about how Disney Dreamers Academy has impacted their lives and how other students can jumpstart their dreams by applying to Disney Dreamers Academy 2014.
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Disney at Essence
 

Champions Corner: Joslyn Catches up with Dreamer Berchell ''Kyle'' Egerton

Berchell "Kyle" Egerton was a high school student with a love for fashion when he came to the inaugural Disney Dreamers Academy in 2008. With a dream set in his mind, and the inspiration and know-how to jumpstart that dream, Berchell was able to launch his own fashion line and have the unique opportunity to showcase his work at a fashion show during New York City's Fashion Week. I caught up with Berchell to find out about his Disney Dreamers Academy experience and what he is up to now.

Q: How was your experience at Disney Dreamers Academy?
A: Too short. The experience was simply exhilarating and inspirational.

Q: What was your favorite event at Disney Dreamers Academy?
A: My favorite event had to be the opening. It was one of the most exciting moments of my life! When Steve [Harvey] spoke to the audience he shared some life lessons with great comedic delivery. It was much appreciated (especially in person).

Q: What are you doing now?
A: I am now living my dreams as a fashion designer and checking off other points on my bucket list. For instance, I am also tattoo artist in my spare time.

Q: How do you plan to continue pursuing your dreams?
A: By just staying hungry and remembering the feelings that accompanied my previous accomplishments and success. The work may be dreadful, but sharing the visions that live in my head makes it all worth it.

You can see some of Berchell's designs at the following links:
Watch on YouTube: Men's Spring/Summer 2013 Collection
View Photos: Men's Spring/Summer 2013 Collection
View on Facebook: Men's Fall/Winter 2013 Collection
Show More: Champions Corner: Joslyn Catches up with Dreamer Berchell ''Kyle'' Egerton
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Champions Corner: Joslyn Catches up with Dreamer Berchell "Kyle" Egerton
 

The Power of a Dream

When she was 12 years old, Jordin Sparks watched the first American Idol competition at home on TV and told her mother "I want to do that." It might have seemed like an impossibility at the time, but five years later Jordin was crowned the winner of the national singing competition. Understanding the power of a dream brought Jordin to Disney Dreamers Academy to share her story with the Dreamers.

Listen to Jordin's advice on turning a dream into a reality. Watch on YouTube
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The Power of a Dream: Jordin Sparks
 

Alumni Connection: Maya White and Imani McClendon

As the 2012 Disney Dreamers Academy was coming to a close, Dreamers Maya and Imani knew that the journey to achieving their dreams was just beginning. This summer, the two Dreamers found out that they would once again have the rare chance take part of that journey together. Both were accepted into and attended the competitive Black Girls Rock Camp for Leadership & Excellence.

For two weeks, Maya and Imani pushed themselves through 20-hour days, taking classes in guitar, DJ, robotics, African dance, Capoeira, media literacy and writing. Similar to DDA, the two were able to speak with individuals who had achieved their dreams and receive personal insights and advice.

"It is truly wonderful to grow with the girls you are with and build an amazing sisterhood that'll last forever!" said Maya.

Congratulations to Maya and Imani!

If you have a Dreamer alumni story you would like to share, please post it to the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook page or tag us on Twitter.
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Alumni Connection: Maya White and Imani McClendon
 

Disney Dreamers Academy Celebrates its Seventh Year of Igniting Lives, Dreams and Passions

July 02, 2013
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Plans are underway for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine. U.S. high school students ages 13-19 can apply to attend this innovative outside-the-classroom educational and mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort. Applications open on July 2, 2013 and must be submitted via www.disneysdreamersacademy.com by October 31, 2013.

Entering the search for its seventh class, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, 100 students – selected from thousands of applicants – participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a bevy of career paths ranging from animation to zoology. Each participant learns important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies.

It all takes place in a magical setting: the Walt Disney World Resort theme parks. Both on stage and behind the scenes, the parks become vibrant 'classrooms,' leading to career discoveries, the pursuit of dreams and fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.

Motivational speakers and celebrities share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and DREAM BIG. Dreamers have the opportunity to cultivate relationships with other students from across the nation while they gain first-hand knowledge from Disney experts and world-renowned entrepreneurs and executives.

"Over the past six years, we have helped 600 Dreamers unlock their potential and get started on their journeys in life," said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. "The seventh Disney Dreamers Academy marks another year of continued motivation, education and success. Steve Harvey and Essence Communications share in our vision of enriching lives. Everyone leaves this program inspired to live their best life."

Participants and a parent or guardian will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla., where they will engage in life-changing sessions and enjoy Disney's magical theme parks. The 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy will take place March 6 - 9.

Steve Harvey, syndicated radio and television personality, along with Essence Magazine and Walt Disney World Resort will host the selected Dreamers during their four-day power packed career and educational exploration. Harvey, speaking on the program, says, "Disney Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold."

Launched in 2007 by Disney Parks, Disney Dreamers Academy has evolved into a year-round initiative with its informational Facebook and Twitter social media platforms; an interactive website; presence at community outreach partner events like the Essence Festival, the National Association of Black Journalists Convention, the Bud Billiken Parade, and the addition of the Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group, which consists of various Dreamers Academy event speakers and presenters who serve as program ambassadors. This year, Dreamers also had the chance to win internships, allowing them the chance to test skills learned at Disney Dreamers Academy.

Essence Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, "We are excited about the seventh Disney Dreamers Academy. This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. This year we plan to go above and beyond to encourage Dreamers. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey serves as a firm commitment to the community and leaders of tomorrow."

This December, a distinguished panel of leaders from the communications, education and entertainment industries will judge the applications. Winners will be announced in early 2014.

For more information visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneydreamersacademy or follow us on Twitter at @dreamersacademy.

Media Contacts:
Maria Cecilia Toro
Walt Disney World Public Relations
maria.c.toro@disney.com
407.566.6310

Treva J. Marshall/Joel Kaiman
TJM Communications, Inc.
treva@tjmcommunications.com/joel@tjmcommunications.com
407.977.5004
Show More: Disney Dreamers Academy Celebrates its Seventh Year of Igniting Lives, Dreams and Passions
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Applications Open for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine
 

ABC's of Being a Dreamer

As a motivational speaker and Disney Dreamers Academy judge, Jonathan Sprinkles knows what it takes to be the ultimate Dreamer. Each year, Jonathan motivates Disney Dreamers Academy students through inspirational and dynamic workshops which leave lasting impressions. By addressing topics like understanding your self-worth and how to avoid negative influences, Jonathan helps encourage students to keep pushing through obstacles, even when it seems like giving up is the only option.

Jonathan shows Dreamers that pursuing their dreams doesn't have to be complicated – sometimes all you need to know are your ABC's. Watch on YouTube
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ABC's of Being a Dreamer
 

The Importance of Image

Style and media mavens Karli and Brandi Harvey know that image and success go hand-in-hand. As the founders of Young Fit & Fly, Karli and Brandi are working to spread the message that by feeling good on the inside, that confidence will reflect on the outside. The pair mentors young women on the importance practicing good style, health and wellness in order to achieve goals.

Karli and Brandi stress that you are often addressed by the way you are dressed. The sisters spoke to Disney Dreamers Academy Dreamers about the importance of how you present your personal brand — because first impressions are lasting impressions. Watch on YouTube
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Karli and Brandi Harvey: The Importance of Image
 

Manhood 101

Mentors can come from anywhere in the community, in school or in the home. Whether it's a father or a father figure and a strong support system can make a difference when it comes to achieving goals. Disney Dreamers Academy speakers Alex Ellis, Jonathan Sprinkles, Dr. Steve Perry and Terrence J understand the importance of having positive influences in your life. By identifying their own mentors, they were able to achieve their dreams and become mentors themselves.

The men of Disney Dreamers Academy discuss how to surround yourself with people who are role models, offer tips on how to identify a mentor and stress that the definition of being a man isn't defined by others – you define it yourself. Watch on YouTube
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Manhood 101
 

Essence Music Festival

The summer season means barbeques, pool parties, the Fourth of July – and the Essence Music Festival!

The Disney Dreamers Academy Champions spent the weekend in New Orleans at the event, talking with attendees about the impact Disney Dreamers Academy can have on high school students. As ambassadors for the Disney Dreamers Academy program, the Champions shared how their DDA experience has helped them on their journey to pursue their dreams and how other students can apply.

In addition to attending empowerment sessions featuring DDA speakers such as Steve Harvey, Mikki Taylor and Dr. Steve Perry, Champions Ebony, Taylor, Avery, Michael and Brenaea also enjoyed some amazing performances from artists like Beyoncé, LL Cool J, Brandy and more!
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Essence Music Festival
 

Chosen Alumni Will Appear Across the Country and Represent Disney Dreamers Academy Program as Brand Representatives

June 15, 2013
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Five Disney Dreamers Academy alumni have been selected to serve as program ambassadors for the 2013-2014 year. The selected students, also known as Champions, will act as national spokespersons and social-media contributors for Disney Dreamers Academy, an annual educational and mentoring program created by Walt Disney World Resort and hosted by Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine.

Having graduated its sixth class in March, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to hold true to its mission to inspire and fuel the dreams of teens, help them discover a world of possibilities and help them prepare for the future. Each year, 100 students participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops related to a bevy of career paths ranging from animation to zoology. Participants, also known as Dreamers, learn important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies from world-renowned entrepreneurs, executives and celebrity speakers.

Launched in 2007, Disney Dreamers Academy has evolved into a year-round initiative with its Facebook and Twitter social media platforms; an interactive website; and participation in community outreach nationwide events. The program also includes the Disney Dreamers Academy Speakers Resource Group, which consists of various Dreamers Academy event speakers who serve as program advisors.

The Disney Dreamers Academy Champions were chosen from a pool of alumni from its six classes. The Champions platform was formed in 2012 to showcase the success of the program's alumni and inspire future applicants. The newly selected Champions will represent the program at select Walt Disney World-sponsored events throughout the country.

"This year's selected Champions embody the strength and success of our Dreamers, and they are a remarkable representation of what Disney Dreamers Academy is all about," said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. "We know these Champions will continue to represent the program and our talented 600 alumni as well as inspire future applicants as they share their stories and continue on their journey to pursue their dreams."

This year's selected Champions represent the 2010, 2011 and 2012 classes:
  • Ebony Johnson; Fayetteville, North Carolina; Class of 2010
  • Michael Balcom; Naples, Florida; Class of 2011
  • Brenaea Fairchild; Willingboro, New Jersey; Class of 2011
  • Avery Davis; Gary, Indiana; Class of 2011
  • Taylor Carter; Gary, Indiana; Class of 2012

For more information visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com, www.facebook.com/disneydreamersacademy or follow us on Twitter at @dreamersacademy.

Media Contacts:
Maria Cecilia Toro
Walt Disney World Public Relations
maria.c.toro@disney.com
407.566.6310

Treva J. Marshall/Joel Kaiman
TJM Communications, Inc.
treva@tjmcommunications.com/joel@tjmcommunications.com
407.977.5004
Show More: Chosen Alumni Will Appear Across the Country and Represent Disney Dreamers Academy Program as Brand Representatives
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Disney Dreamers Academy Selects New Champions to Serve as Program Ambassadors
 

Meet the Champions!

Last year, Disney Dreamers Academy launched the Disney Dreamers Academy Champions program aimed to inspire the next generation of Dreamers to pursue their dreams. These talented alumni served as national spokespersons and brand ambassadors for Disney Dreamers Academy, traveling across the country to share Disney Dreamers Academy's goals and message of dreaming big.

This year, five more gifted alumni were selected to serve as the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions. Over the course of the year, the new Champions will encourage future Dreamers and empower alumni to continue to aim for success. The Champions will also serve as guest contributors for Disney Dreamers Academy's social media channels. As Dreamers themselves, the Champions know what it takes to go after their goals – whether it's in performing arts or learning new languages. Keep an eye out here as well as on the Disney Dreamers Academy Facebook and Twitter pages over the next year as we learn more about and from our Champions!

Meet the 2013 Disney Dreamers Academy Champions!
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Meet the Champions
 

Sharing the Story of a Dream

As Essence Magazine's Editor-at-Large, Mikki Taylor knows the power of storytelling. In order to become a successful Dreamer, she encourages students to share their stories. Through storytelling, students can achieve their goals and even connect with others who may be experiencing the same obstacles.

At Disney Dreamers Academy, Mikki and the rest of the speakers inspire Dreamers by sharing their own journeys to their dreams. She advises Dreamers to be clear about their goals, pass along knowledge they gain to others and how it's essential that everyone finds the courage to tell their own story.

Check out Mikki Taylor's advice for dreaming big and telling your story! Watch on YouTube
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Sharing the Story of a Dream
 

Conversations With...

They may be famous now, but celebrities Terrence J, Stephen A. Smith, Kimberley Locke and Cupid all had obstacles to face on the path to their dreams. Even though they experienced rejection, the stars never let road blocks stop them from going after what they were most passionate about.

In the "Conversations With…" panel at Disney Dreamers Academy, celebrities share the challenges they faced while pursuing their dreams and words of inspiration with Dreamers. The panelists discuss what they believe are the most important factors for success, including planning goals in advance, cheering on others, learning how to identify bad advice and much more.

Check out the video of "Conversations With…" panel! Watch on YouTube
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Conversations With...
 

Career Exploration in Culinary Arts

There's more to food than opening up a can! At Disney Dreamers Academy, high school students interested in the culinary arts get a rare, hands-on experience in the kitchen with the program's career workshops, known as Deep Dives.

Led by Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson and Walt Disney World® Resort chefs, culinary Dreamers learn about fresh foods, how to run a kitchen and how the food industry operates. Dreamers also put their lessons to practice by preparing a meal for the entire Academy. By the end of the weekend, Dreamers learn the recipe for success in the kitchen – and for following their dreams.

Take an inside look at the Disney Dreamers Academy Culinary Deep Dive! Watch on YouTube
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Career Exploration in Culinary Arts
 

''How to Jumpstart Your Dream'' by Champion Princeton Parker

One of the most popular questions that Dreamers have is: "Now that I'm motivated and ready to pursue my dream, where do I begin?" Well, I believe there are three steps that each Dreamer should take to jumpstart their dream.

1. Get the ideas out!
Your dream cannot reach anyone or anything as long as it remains in your head. Now that you know what your vision is, write the vision. Sing the vision, draw the vision, color the vision, read the vision, record the vision, and speak the vision. The huge dream will not come to pass without you first manifesting the small pieces.

2. Get connected.
How much do you know about your dream job? What community service organizations are already serving the people you want to help? How much time a day do you spend engaging in media, literature, and counseling that is directly related to what you want to do? This is how dreamers make their time worthwhile. If we do not get mentally connected for what we want to do, then we will be unprepared to answer the door when opportunity comes knocking. Getting connected can start with something as simple as a Google search, or phone call to a local business. The goal is to learn as much as possible about your dream, and ways that you can make it happen.

3. Just do it.
Beyond its commercial popularity and brand power, this adage from Nike holds a distinct and profound spiritual insight. For most dreamers, what's stopping the fulfillment of our dreams is not that we don't know what to do, or that we don't have the strength to see it through, but that most of us are afraid to take the first step. Do it. Take the first step. No matter how great or small, action is what launches the jumpstart of your dream.
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Jumpstart Your Dream
 

Applications Are Open!

What dreams do you have for your future? Applications for Disney Dreamers Academy 2014 are now open online. Disney Dreamers Academy is looking for the next 100 Dreamers to get a jumpstart on their goals. Do you hope to become a chef? A lawyer? An actress? The possibilities for you are endless. The selected high school students will spend an immersive and enlightening weekend at Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida. Students will get hands-on learning experiences from professionals through career workshop classes and hear from inspiring speakers and celebrities about their journey to success.

So what are you waiting for? Apply today and start making your dreams a reality. Visit the the Disney Dreamers Academy Apply Page for additional information and to apply.
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Applications Are Open
 

Message from Champion Ashley Geiger

Hi guys! Ashley here and I have a few tips you may choose to consider when applying for the Disney's Dreamers Academy. First, make sure to stay true to yourself. Do not present a story that you think wants to be heard - tell your story and make sure your truth is what is heard. Next, treat the essays you write for the application as if they are going to be graded. Hence, be conscious of grammatical errors and sentence structure. Put thought into your answers. Being accepted into this program will change your life; you would not want to miss the opportunity of a lifetime. Remember to be creative. Think of a way that your application can stand out and be memorable to the judges. Last, do not sell yourself short. Remember to dream! Only 100 students are chosen, put faith in yourself to know that you CAN be among those accepted.

When considering wardrobe, remember to always dress for success. Varied situations cause for altered attire. When in a business setting you will need a professional look. Ladies, do not show too much skin. If wearing a skirt, knee length is appropriate and for the top never put cleavage on display. At the same time, do not present someone who is not you. You want to keep the young spunky attitude in your wardrobe, yet remain professional at all times. Men should wear a nice pair of slacks and a button down to be most presentable. Never wear tennis shoes. Dress shoes are most appropriate. Men, you too can spunk up your outfit with a colorful bowtie/tie or even some cool funky socks.

I hope you all will find my words of advice to be useful!
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Ashley Geiger
 

The Dreamers Behind the Magic

Whether it's bringing an animated castle to life or taking guests on a trip to Mount Everest in Florida, behind all the rides and attractions at Walt Disney World® Resort is a group of people called Imagineers. It's their job to dream up some of the biggest, most unbelievable and fantastic ideas possible and then turn those into the reality that Disney guests get to enjoy.

So who better to teach the Disney Dreamers Academy students about dreaming big than one of the Imagineers behind that Disney magic? Imagineer Dexter Tanskley annually speaks at the Disney Dreamers Academy about his aspirations and how they led him to the career of his dreams. Watch on YouTube
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Dexter Tanksley: Walt Disney Imagineering
 

Overcoming the Doubters

As one of the most recognizable and respected TV news personalities in the country, Soledad O'Brien is considered to have reached the pinnacle of her profession. It wasn't, however, a smooth trip to the top.

O'Brien spoke at the Disney Dreamers Academy about the challenges, doubters and "no's" she encountered along her journey. According to her, it is your reaction to those moments that determine your ability to achieve your dream. " 'No' has to become, 'Yes I will.' 'Your can't' has to become 'Yeah, I can.'"

Check out the video to find out the one quality she attributes to her success. Watch on YouTube
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Soledad O'Brien: Emmy Award-winning Reporter & Best-Selling Author
 

Be a Priceless Masterpiece

Born to a drug-addicted mother, Zerbin Singleton was faced with immense challenges from the very start of his life. Despite being surrounded by drugs, poverty and homelessness, he never made excuses and continued in pursuit of his dreams. In spite of all the obstacles, Zerbin made it to the Naval Academy and now serves as an officer in the U.S. Marine Corps.

In his speech at the Disney Dreamers Academy, Zerbin told the Dreamers his personal story and shared his inspiring poetry which provides life lessons on how to go "F.A.R." with your dreams. It is certainly a lesson we can all learn! Watch on YouTube
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Zerbin Singleton: Be a Priceless Masterpiece
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