After months of inspiring virtual programming and presentations, the Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program recently concluded with a virtual commencement ceremony for the 100 student participants.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine was canceled in March but students still had the opportunity to experience the magic of Walt Disney World.

The annual event, now in its 13th year, brings 100 high school students selected from 10,000 applicants from across the nation for an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World in Florida to participate in the four-day event.

In August, officials announced that a virtual event would take place offering career shadow externships for all 100 members of the class.

Three local high school students from the New York City area were part of this year’s event. Fatoumata Soumare from Brooklyn, Myah Mitchell from Cambria Heights, Queens and Danielle Phillip from Valley Stream were among the 100.

Just like past Disney Dreamers Academy events, the virtual experience delivered life lessons and tools such as effective communication techniques, leadership skills and networking strategies. This version of the program consisted of self-paced workshops, interactive video-conferencing sessions, networking opportunities and more, led by top speakers and industry professionals.

“We took great pride in presenting the Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program Series,” said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. “The virtual platform gave us a chance to amplify the Disney Dreamers Academy theme, ‘Be100,’ which encourages teens to be positive, to be ‘all in’ and to make a difference.”

The virtual program was available free to the 2020 class to continue educating and inspiring students during the pandemic. The inaugural virtual event kicked off Sept. 26 launching the series of 12 weekends filled with engaging presentations by Disney leaders, other business professionals and celebrities.

During the recent commencement, Disney Dreamers and their parents/guardians were treated to a stirring production, complete with special performances by and tributes from beloved celebrities such as Anthony Anderson from ABC’s black-ish, actress Yvette Nicole Brown and Arica Himmel of ABC’s mixed-ish. Anderson, Brown and Himmel also joined Powell as event co-hosts.

Disney Dreamers were awarded career shadowing externships. Each student will be paired with a professional from his or her field of interest for a spring 2021 mentoring experience. Mentors will bring knowledge and expertise from Walt Disney Imagineering, The Walt Disney Studios, ABC, Pixar, Essence Magazine, National Geographic and other organizations.

“We could not be more impressed with this year’s class and the curiosity, positive outlook and perseverance it’s shown the last 12 weeks,” said Powell. “This was a unique opportunity for us to touch the lives of these 100 students, and we know they are destined for great things.”