ORLANDO, Fla. – Youth listened to inspirational speakers and got the chance to experience their future careers on the second day of the Disney Dreamers Academy on Friday at Walt Disney World. 

The theme for the day was “Discover The Possibilities.” Along with hearing inspirational speeches, Dreamers participated in hands-on workshops in various career fields around Walt Disney World.

The Dreamers started their day hearing from several speakers including artist H.E.R, actress  Marsai Martin, ESSENCE President and CEO Caroline Wanga, veterinarians Drs. Vernard L. Hodges and Terrence Ferguson of Nat Geo Wild’s Critter Fixers and the cast of Disney’s animated series The Proud Family.

Cyril Josh Barker photos

H.E.R., actress Marsai Martin and Princeton Parker
Dr. Vernard Hodge and Dr. Terrence Ferguson of “Critter Fixers: Country Vets
ESSENCE President and CEO Caroline Wanga

During an interview with the media, H.E.R. said it’s important that students nurture all of their interests.

“Some people say you have to focus on one thing but I think you have to take it day by day and figure out the bigger picture,” she said. “I knew in my spirit that I had to do this music thing 100 percent and put in the 10,000 hours. You have to get to know yourself and see what works for you.”

Grammy-Award winning musician H.E.R. surprised teens with autographed guitars during the Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. on March 24, 2023. The Disney Dreamers Academy is a mentorship event hosted annually by Walt Disney World Resort to foster the dreams of 100 Black students and teens from underrepresented communities around the country. (Charlene Morrison, photographer)
Disney Dreamers learn about careers Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo
Disney Dreamer Toluwakitan Akinsola and Minnie Mouse Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

Afterward the students attend the “Career Academy Expose” session where they were separated based on their career interests to hear from and network with Disney cast members and other  professionals about a vast array of career opportunities. The academies included business and service, entertainment and storytelling and science and technology.

RELATED: 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy kicks off at Walt Disney World

At the “Be 100 Empowerment Lunch” radio personality, music executive and pop culture expert Mike Muse discussed his personal journey and offered inspiring words. Later In the afternoon the Dreamers participated in “Deep Dives” Dreamers were given a more personalized experience in small groups based on their career interests.

Mike Muse

Tavis Sanders, 15, is attending Dreamers Academy from Philadelphia and wants to be an aeroacoustic engineer and photographer. A high school freshman, he wants to attend Howard University.

“It’s been really fun having a chance to meet all of these people and meet so many great mentors and discover your passion,” said Dreamer Travis Sanders from Philadelphia. “I want to give the kids maybe a new career path they might want to follow.”

On Saturday, the Dreamers are participating in a session where they will learn about creating their personal brand and image via their attire from some of the fashion industry’s biggest names.

Tavis Sanders Credit: Cyril Josh Barker photo

A collection of celebrities and other accomplished professionals will also share personal lessons about achieving their dreams. Speakers include, Dominique Thorne, film producer James

Lopez, ballet dancer Aesha Ash, music producer Larrance Dopson, music composer and director Rickey Minor, fashion designer Sergio Hudson, gospel singer Pastor Mike Jr. and musical group The Walls

Dreamers will showcase what they learned and created during their “Deep Dives” and the “Be 100 Café for the Senses Showcase and Dinner.”

This is the 16th year of Disney Dreamers Academy, a four-day mentoring program designed to broaden career awareness and create opportunities for 100 Black high school students and teens from underrepresented communities across America each year.

Disclosure: The Walt Disney Company paid for the travel and accommodations for several media outlets, including the AmNews, to cover the Disney Dreamers Academy. Disney did not review or approve any of our coverage.

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