I recently spoke at Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA), a 4-Day all-expense paid program at Walt Disney World that shows high school students how to dream.
Before I get started, I just want to clarify that yes, I did say an ALL-EXPENSE PAID program educating teenagers on dreaming!
I actually just learned about DDA before receiving a call from a program coordinator asking that I speak at the 2014 experience.
Wait, what? – Did I really just say Disney World called me to speak at one of their events?
Yes, I think I did!
So just to clarify the situation, I had my manager contact Disney just to verify, and well, they did want me! Not only did they want me, I would be the first ever high school student to speak at this event! Isn’t God good?
I’ve been back home from Disney Dreamers Academy for two 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 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 in their “dream” career path.
When the program was originally erected, Steve Harvey stated they selected 100 at risk youth. However, this year I noticed 100 of America’s best high school students, and Steve reiterated this at the closing ceremony. While speaking during the Entrepreneurship Career Deep Dive, I met some intelligent youth, all following their dreams rather it be wanting to be 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 that our youth care more about making and spending a dollar on themselves, rather than helping someone else out. Breaking the stereotypes, over 90% of the students in that room wanted to start an organization just 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 that I serve as a board member for his non-profit. Without a pause or thought about it, I said YES. Because the duties of a board member may be time consuming, I really have to think about it and analyze the organization thoroughly. I didn’t have to do that in this case, and the reason is that I saw great potential in what he can do for our society, and I want to invest my time in him.
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 they 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!