My Experience in the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy
"Don’t shoot for the stars, for the stars are limited. Shoot for the universe, because the universe is infinite and so are your possibilities”, encouraged Disney Imagineer Dexter Tanksley.
The best experiences in our life begin with a leap of faith. One fateful July afternoon, my mother was watching The Steve Harvey Morning Show when an advertisement for the 2014 Disney Dreamers Academy came on. Three essays, a surprising acceptance letter, and a four hour plane ride later, I stepped foot into an Academy that changed my life forever.
The week began with nervous laughter and anticipation, as one hundred Dreamers from throughout the United States met each other for the first time. Smiles were given, and business cards were exchanged. World renown speakers like comedian Steve Harvey, basketball star Magic Johnson, and Editor at Large for Essence Magazine Mikki Taylor spoke words of life and encouragement where it was needed the most. Separate male and female empowerment sessions brought the Dreamers closer together, as our “Big Sisters” answered the difficult questions about love, romance, beauty, and self image. Four days of glorious elation and positivity, of seeing my dreams of journalism and politics spring to life. By the end of the Commencement Ceremony, I felt like I have the power to achieve anything. Strangers turned into friends. Dreams turned into action. Hopelessness transformed into empowerment.
Depression tried to own my life. Insecurity tried to define who I was. Doubt, regret, and hopelessness reminded me that I was only a teenager, that not one person could make a worldwide impact. Society condemned my ambition, my refusal to remain normal. But through the Disney Dreamers Academy, I was reminded the power of a dream, the world of possibilities. Beyond the excitement of celebrities and the lure of theme parks lied a bigger promise that follows long after the Commencement Ceremony. Circumstances did not prevent my dream, but shaped me into the person I needed to be in order to follow my dreams relentlessly.
I’m typing this in Southern California, a week after the Academy has passed, yet my heart can recollect every moment of the Academy. It is bittersweet, leaving something new, yet something so dearly loved. I am so thankful to have been one of the hundred applicants to experience this surreal opportunity. I have made countless friends and business connections. I never imagined myself experiencing something like this. Prior, my goals were to blend in, with my head down and somehow provide for myself. Now, the flame of ambition is lit inside of me, a blaze that refuses to burn out in whatever circumstance. Big things are coming. I have been endowed with my passions for a reason and a purpose. What was once a discouraging case is becoming a success story in the making. I am a work in progress, and I am okay with that. I am no longer identified by the mistakes I have made but the future that I have. I now have the confidence to choose my own destiny, to value excellence even in the most mundane of tasks. Normalcy is overrated. I am different, and I am proud to be who I am.
Most of all, I refuse to be silent. The Disney Dreamers Academy taught me that I have a voice for a reason, and I will be heard. I am no longer the wallflower, the last player picked on a team. I am not the numbers or statistics society has placed on me, but a Dreamer and Doer of great things. Birthed with purpose, and thankful in surplus, I am ready to make my mark on the world. The Disney Dreamers Academy may have ended, but today begins the rest of my adventure in pursuing my dreams and imagining worlds of possibility. Here’s to the crazy ones, for the ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.