Monday, January 17, 2022

2018 Disney Dreamers Academy Inspires Dreamers to Be 100

High school students from Washington, D.C., star in a special parade Thursday, March 8, at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. to signal the beginning of the 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE magazine. The event, taking place March 8-11, 2018 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S.

Dream on purpose. Dream Big.  

*For the 11th consecutive year Walt Disney World, along with television host Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine, accommodated highly selected participating students, known as “Disney Dreamers,” for this year’s Dreamers Academy.

The selection process to attend the Dreamers Academy is exceptionally competitive, the Dreamers submitted personal essays detailing their life experiences, achievements, and why they should enroll in the academy.

Out of the thousands of compositions they received, Disney, ESSENCE Magazine, and Steve Harvey’s team handpicked 100 students to attend the four-day, immersive and transformational mentoring program at Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.

Fresh off its 10th year anniversary, Tracey D. Powell, Vice-President of Pricing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and executive champion of Disney Dreamers remarked at a press conference, “Our last event was absolutely great. We had a phenomenal first ten years so now we have to think about the second decade and what does that mean for the Disney Dreamers Academy.”

She went on to say that there was a meeting of the minds between Disney, Steve Harvey’s group and ESSENCE Magazine to discuss how they can touch and reach the Disney Dreamers in a more meaningful way, so they came up with the campaign Be 100: Empowering Youth to Make Their Dreams Come True.

“Be 100 means many things to many people.  For us it is a message to the dreamers to be who they are in reaching for the stars, in going, after their dreams, be authentic, be honest, [and] be everything they want to be for their unique journey,” explains Powell.

(l-r) Annette Gibbs, Walt Disney World Public Relations Manager, Michelle Ebanks, President of ESSENCE Communications, Inc., and Tracy D. Powell, Vice-President of Pricing for Walt Disney Parks and Resorts and executive champion of Disney Dreamers at the Disney Dreamers Press Conference Orlando, Florida. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

Michelle Ebanks President of ESSENCE Communications, Inc. added, “Participating in the Dreamers Academy is just a natural.  We believe that you go into your essence to what is unique and special about yourself.  If you tap into that and own it and chart a course in your life, there are no limitations because there is only one you.  There is only one dream that you’ve had as your gift.  For our young people sometimes you have to tell them there is a reason why you’re here, and it’s not just to be on social media, looking at your smartphone all day. It’s never too early to set that plan and get to work, and that’s what the academy does, it tells you to dream and then do the work.”

Disney Dreamers Academy Pre-Parade at the Magic Kingdom® Park

To celebrate the 2018 Dreamers, Disney welcomed them with a parade at the Magic Kingdom.  Dreamers had the chance to walk in the procession, ride trollies and floats with notable Disney characters like Donald Duck, all the while holding placards representing their home cities and states, as well as, encouraging phrases like “Great Risk, Great Reward” to the enthusiastic crowd.  Following some of the Dreamers were Steve Harvey, Tracey D. Powell, and ESSENCE Editor-at-large Mikki Taylor accompanied by Mickey and Minnie Mouse.

(top-bottom, l-r) Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Steve Harvey, Tracey D. Powell, executive champion for Disney Dreamers Academy and Mikki Taylor, editor-at-large for Essence Magazine star in a special parade Thursday, March 8, at Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The parade signals the beginning of the 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE magazine. The event, taking place March 8-11, 2018 at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

 

Disney Dreamers Academy Be 100 Welcome Ceremony

The Dreamers represent the nation’s best, and they hailed from the midwest, northeast, and the southeast of the continental United States.  A quick review of their bios reveals that many have aspirations to be professionals in areas of medicine, business, law, journalism, and entertainment to name a few.  Many of these accomplished students have overcome struggles and hardships, yet they still persevere, and as a way to honor them and their aspirations, the Dreamers joined in a Be 100 Welcome Ceremony held at the World Showplace at Epcot. The speakers at the ceremony were Princeton Parker a Disney Dreamer alum, George Kalogridis, President of Walt Disney World Resort, Tracey D. Powell, Mikki Taylor, gospel singer and radio personality Yolanda Adams, Steve Harvey and of course Mickey Mouse.  Steve Harvey offered words of encouragement to the students by saying, “You don’t have to know at this age exactly what you want to be when you grow up that’s not necessary.  All we want you to do is open your minds and dream this weekend.”  Princeton Parker also echoed Harvey’s sentiments by telling the dreamers, “We brought you Dreamers Academy to educate you and empower you to answer so when life and your dream ask who will you be you’ll respond I will be great, I will be fearless, I will be determined, I will be a dreamer, I choose to be 100.”

Steve Harvey greets students Thursday, March 8, 2018, during the welcome ceremony of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

High school students experience an emotional moment Thursday, March 8, 2018, during the welcome ceremony of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

 

Gospel superstar Yolanda Adams greets students Thursday, March 8, 2018, during the welcome ceremony of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Be 100: Great Risk. Great Reward

The Dreamers kicked off their second day with speaker Jonathan Sprinkles who made note that many of students highlighted in their submitted essays the personal tragedies that they have endured; instead, he implored them to consider that “Being imperfect does not disqualify you from your dream. As a matter of fact, it is those imperfections that give you a greater level of persistence so that you will achieve [your dream].” Followed by Sprinkles was a panel discussion hosted by Princeton Parker that included Derrick Braziel and William Thomas founders of Mortar Cincinnati, Ashley Johnson, CEO of ANJPR Consulting, LLC, and Imani McClendon, an equity analyst and portfolio manager for Bloomberg L.P., all discussed their hurdles that they overcame in order to achieve their successes. Ashley Johnson, a Dreamers Academy alumna, told the current class of Dreamers, it was her time spent at the academy that allowed her to define her career path, “The academy changed my life, and it allowed me to understand what I wanted to do with my career.  Before the academy, I was a senior in high school and not knowing what I wanted to do.  I knew I was going to get a college degree, but the academy made me think further than that, it made me think what did I want to do with myself, what type of legacy did I want to leave on this earth. [The academy] changed my identity [and I found out] I wanted to be an entrepreneur and wanted to do public relations, it sparked all those wonderful for me.”  Afterward, the Dreamers were whisked off to participate in their “Deep Dives” at the Disney University.  While at the university, the high schoolers had the opportunity to be mentored by professionals in the areas of agriculture, graphic design, education, entrepreneurship, media arts, law, live entertainment, medical, sports, natural sciences, and technology.

Reporting Live! The Correspondents Crash Course in Multimedia Deep Dive facilitated by Charreah Jackson, Lifestyle and Relationships Editor & Intern Program Manager, Essence Magazine and Meg Patten, Operations Engagement Specialist
Walt Disney World. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

Mickey Mouse surprises students during a hands-on Imagineering and engineering workshop Friday, March 9, 2018, as part of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Ashton Peoples, of Atlanta Ga., learns medical principles during a medical workshop Friday, March 9, 2018, as part of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

While the Dreamers immersed themselves in their mentorship sessions, their parents and chaperones listened to inspirational speeches given by Tracey D. Powell and renowned motivational speaker Lisa Nichols. Later that evening, Disney Dreamers had the chance to network with the speakers, Disney executives, as well as, the team members of ESSENCE Magazine and Steve Harvey’s new television show STEVE.

Dream It. Do It.

For the third day, Dreamers had a grand breakfast to energize them to participate in the Style 101-Image Makeover session hosted by the gregarious Brandi Harvey and her equally sociable twin sister Karli Harvey-Raymond, as well as, the sophisticated Dr. Alex Ellis, founder of Tied to Greatness.  During the image awareness seminar, the Dreamer girls were shown various pictures of celebrities and were asked to rate their attire.  At the same time, the Dreamer boys followed instructions on how to put together an ensemble that projected confidence and success.  Later, the two separate fashion sessions came together and presented a fashion show.  As a conclusion, Dr. Alex Ellis instructed all the male chaperones and parents to help teach the male Dreamers on how to wear and tie a necktie.

Disney Dreamers participate in a fashion show. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

A Disney Representative helps a Disney Dreamer with his necktie. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

Dr. Alex Ellis, founder of Tied to Greatness, instructs a Dreamer how to tie a necktie. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

Afterward, Dreamers heard from speakers such as prominent educator Dr. Steve Perry, Sonia Jackson Myles, founder of The Sister Accord and Khalil Kinsey. Both Perry and Myles dropped jewels of wisdom by telling the students to not just focus on finding a job, but to seek out their purpose, as well as, to recognize that fear holds them back from things they were created to do.

Educator Dr. Steve Perry speaks to a room full of Dreamers. Photo by: Yolanda Baruch

Kinsey spoke to the Dreamers about how his family’s collection of African-American history that consists of rare art, documents, books, and artifacts helped him in discovering his heritage. The Kinsey Collection will end its run at the American Heritage Collection at the Epcot theme park by the end of this month, and the students had the fantastic treat to see the compilation later in the day.   Once the speakers’ motivational session concluded, the Dreamers went out to enjoy the park and the rides before reconvening in the evening to partake in the celebrity panel hosted by ABC’s The View Sunny Hostin.  The panel included pop star Ne-Yo, Jussie Smollett star of Fox’s television show “Empire,” Miles Brown and Marsai Martin stars of ABC’s family sitcom “Black-ish,” China McClain star of CW’s “Black Lightning” along with her sisters Sierra and Lauryn McClain who are well-known on the Disney Channel, Radio Disney, Fox’s “Empire,” and the movie “Descendants 2″, as well as, Marvel’s “Black Panther” costume designer Ruth Carter.  The excitement in the room was palpable. However, the happiness the Dreamers were experiencing in seeing their favorite celebrities did not prevent them from realizing that even people who appear to have achieved their goals still have to work hard and overcome struggles in their profession.

Actor Jussie Smollett and pop star Ne-Yo share inspiring stories with high school students Saturday, March 10, 2018, during a panel discussion of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Ne-Yo recounted a time when he signed with Columbia Records. The music executives were trying to mold him into the artist they thought he should become. Instead of accepting their direction for his career Ne-Yo fought back and was shelved for two years, “It took that happening for me to realize that it’s not about allowing someone to tell you who you are. You have to look in the mirror and figure it out for yourself and find the best way to explain that to everybody else because they are going to compare you.”  He went on to further say to the Dreamers that they must determine what their passions are and pursue those dreams. “I tell people all the time, that’s how I got to where I am it was simply me not allowing anybody to stop me that was it because I heard ‘no,’ I heard you ain’t as cute as Usher, I heard your songs are not as good as such as such. I still get it till this day.  Someone hit me up on Twitter [and said] you still not better than Usher, well cool I’ll take that.”

Pop star Ne-Yo and actor Jussie Smollett share inspiring stories with high school students Saturday, March 10, 2018, during a panel discussion of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Marsai Martin also shared her experience being in the competitive entertainment industry. After season one of “Black-ish,” the show was on hiatus, and she spoke to her agent to see if she could pursue other projects, “Our agent said ‘Well just stick with “Black-ish,” we don’t have anything else for you.’  But my parents were like, ‘It’s pilot season, auditions are happening like what’s going on?  “Black-ish” is the only thing we are going to do’. They gathered Marsai along with her parents in a meeting room, and there was a stack of scripts on the desk with no characters written for a young black girl.  Marsai recalls, “There’s no little black girls in this, there’s a dog in this, and there is an alien, there’s nothing for you to be in.”  Undeterred by the obstacle that so many people of color face when seeking viable roles, Marsai made an affirming decision, “Well, let’s make our own stuff and now I’m executive producing my own film. We’ve been working on it for three years.” The film is titled “Little,” and Will Packer and “Black-ish” creator Kenya Barris are set to produce the movie with a release date of fall 2019.  The story centers around a woman who re-experiences her youthful days as a child, a role Marsai will play, when the responsibilities of adulthood become too overwhelming. The young actress told the Dreamers that people may disregard them but that they must work hard and shine through.

ABC’s “Black-ish” stars Miles Brown and Marsai Martin share inspiring stories with high school students Saturday, March 10, 2018, during a panel discussion of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

One of the most anticipated speakers of the evening was Ruth Carter, the costume designer of the widely successful Marvel’s “Black Panther” movie that has grossed over a billion dollars at the box office since its release in February.  She shared with the Dreamers how intimidated she was when she received the job, “I thought will I be able to do this?  I’m glad I’m getting this opportunity, but I’m really scared.”  However, she had to encourage and reassure herself that she was up to the job and could bring something tangible to the project.  She shared her ideas with the director Ryan Coogler and created the costumes for the film. “The Black Panther suit itself has a little triangular pattern on the suit; I call it the Okavango pattern because I wanted the Black Panther to not only be a superhero [but I also] wanted him to be an African king. So when he’s walking around, and he’s having a conversation without his helmet on, you can see the patterns, you can feel like it’s from Africa,” recalls Ruth.  Now that the film is a global phenomenon Ruth told the teenagers she was glad she overcame her feelings of fear and was able to contribute to an enormous piece of pop culture.  However, the road to her success had many challenges, “We were all packed up and ready to move to Atlanta where we shot the film, and half of my team quit, half of my team walked, and it wasn’t anything I did.  I think “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” was about to happen, and they wanted to do that film. They were not believing in this “Black Panther” film but now who has the last laugh.”  She told the Dreamers that confidence would pull them through tough times when things fall apart and help them work through small problems.  She also encouraged the students not to be afraid to ask for help. When she was without a team, she called upon her friends and was able to develop the look for the film. “That’s the thing that people don’t like to do; they are so afraid that if they ask for help then someone will say you are not good enough but you are because you’re smart enough to ask for help from the people that are going to support you. If someone is not cheering you on then, they don’t need to be on your team,” advises Ruth.  After the Be 100 celebrity panel, the Dreamers had dinner and then participated in the Career Open Mouse where they presented, along with their facilitators, the skills they acquired during their “Deep Dives.”

Academy Award-nominated costume designer Ruth E. Carter, who recently worked on “Black Panther,” shares inspiring stories with high school students Saturday, March 10, 2018, during a panel discussion of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Commencement Ceremony

To conclude the educational and mentoring retreat, Dreamers attended a commencement ceremony held at the World Showplace Main Hall at Epcot. Speakers such as Jonathan Sprinkles, Princeton Parker, Tracey D. Powell, Michelle Ebanks and Steve Harvey imparted wise life lessons for the Dreamers to take with them as they continued to follow their pursuits. Several Dreamers were given awards for the exceptional skills and knowledge they displayed during their time spent at the academy.

Joined by Tracey D. Powell and Brandi Harvey, Q’Markis Brooks a senior at Port St. Lucie High School, West Palm Beach, Florida, was granted the Courage Award. As a survivor of cancer, Q’Markis plans to attend North Carolina University and study architecture and oncology in hopes of building a medical center for children to receive proper care for their illnesses.

High school student Q’Markis Brooks, from West Palm Beach, Fla., receives the Courage Award during the commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Nada Delati a sophomore at Walnut High School, La Verne, California took the Leadership Award, and she plans to attend the University of Southern California to become an OB/GYN and an author.

Joined by Disney Executive Champion of Disney Dreamers Academy Tracey D. Powell and Brandi Harvey, high school student Nada Delati receives the Leadership Award during the commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

Kyle McBeth of Southfield, Michigan is a senior at Loyola High School, and he accepted the Dreamer of the Year Award.  As a member of the National Honor Society and captain of his school’s debate team, Kyle aspires to become an international human rights attorney to fight for the rights of all people.

High school student Kyle McBeth receives the Dreamer of the Year award during commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

 

 

Nina Crosby Walton of Frederick, Maryland attends Walkersville High School and Frederick County Career and Technology Center’s CAD Architecture program collected the Imagineering Experience award.  She plans to pursue her Bachelors of Architecture with minors in aerospace engineering and graphic design in the fall of 2018. Nina intends to become a space architect at NASA—designing deep space habitats—or a project architect at Walt Disney Imagineering.

High school student Nina Crosby Walton, of Washington D.C., receives the Imagineering Experience award during the commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

 

Steve Harvey fittingly gave the Dreamers the closing speech and said, “You can go to college and get a degree in a specific field. The majority of people that I know that went to college and got a degree ended up working in something totally different [and] there’s nothing wrong with that, it’s okay. You have two objectives in this world [and that is] to be happy and to be successful.  Your happiness, your success, and your future has a lot to do with your imagination.”

Steve Harvey inspires students Sunday, March 11, 2017, during the commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Gospel superstar Yolanda Adams gives a stirring performance Sunday, March 11, 2018, during the commencement of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Adams was one of several celebrities who participated in the 11th annual event, taking place March 8-11, 2018, at Walt Disney World Resort. Disney Dreamers Academy is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Following Steve Harvey, gospel singing sensation Yolanda Adams sang a rousing rendition of ‘I Believe I Can Fly’ and the students were given rings by their parents and chaperones to celebrate their achievements.

High school students experience an emotional moment Sunday, March 11, 2018, during the commencement ceremony of Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Epcot in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 8-11, 2018 is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

Performers from the “Festival of the Lion King” show presented at Disney’s Animal Kingdom celebrate the commencement of the 11th annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine on Sunday, March 11, 2018, at Epcot at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The annual event is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Todd Anderson, photographer)

To close out the ceremony dancers, stilt walkers, and singers from the “Festival of the Lion King” show sang ‘A Circle of Life’ and gave the Dreamers a proper send off to continue to dream bigger, discover a world of possibilities and to Be 100

2018 Disney Dreamers join Mickey Mouse and (center, L-R): ESSENCE Magazine Editor-at-Large Mikki Taylor; President of ESSENCE Communications Michelle Ebanks; Steve Harvey and Disney Executive Champion of Disney Dreamers Academy Tracey D. Powell on Sunday, March 11, 2018 to celebrate the commencement of the 11th Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The annual event is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

High school students who are interested in attending the 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy can apply starting June 28 by visiting disneydreamersacademy.com

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