Five local high school students from New York and New Jersey are preparing for the 16th annual Disney Dreamers Academy March 23-26 at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.

The teens, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort, where they will take part in a once-in-a-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.

Mickey Mouse at the Disney Dreamers Academy Credit: Walt Disney World photo

This year’s winners from the New York-metro area include Morgan Lin from Brooklyn, Emily Melendez from Queens, Amechi Chukwujiorah-Strange from Queens, Autumn Tyler from Chester, NY, Claudia Merchan from Hackensack, NJ and Mosope Aina from Newark, NJ.

To kick off the announcement of the 2023 class, Mickey Mouse, Disney executives, and recording star Kelly Rowland surprised Aina with the news of her selection live on national TV from her school in Newark. Afterwards, the names of the entire Class of 2023 were displayed on a Times Square billboard.

The students are part of a group of 100 students from across the nation attending the four-day event where they’ll learn important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies, and build confidence.


Students were selected from nearly a thousand applicants who answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories, the people who are most influential in their lives and their dreams for the future.

During Disney Dreamers Academy, the Walt Disney World theme parks become “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops led by industry experts covering a bevy of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology.

Tracy Powell, Disney Signature Experiences vice president and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion (left) and 2023 Disney Dreamer Mosope Aina Credit: Walt Disney World photo

Each year, motivational speakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, executives and Disney cast members gather at the event to share their stories and provide insight on charting a positive course and achievement. 

“We’re ready to welcome another outstanding group of teens from across the country for our 16th year!” said Tracey Powell, Disney Signature Experiences vice president and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “They are going to have the experience of a lifetime, setting them on a journey to go out and achieve their dreams, just like the classes who came before them.”

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