A stirring production, tributes from beloved celebrities, and powerful musical performances marked the Dec. 12 commencement ceremony for the first Disney Dreamers Academy virtual program series. One hundred teens from across the country – 10 from the Atlanta area – were feted and celebrated for completing the 12-week, one-of-a-kind-program of live and on-demand video sessions designed to help them jump-start their life goals and pursue their dreams.

Each year since 2008, Disney Dreamers Academy brings together 100 students and their guardians from across the United States for an all-expenses-paid trip to Walt Disney World where they participate in an immersive, transformational four-day learning experience. The program is part of Walt Disney World Resort’s commitment to helping the next generation of young people by inspiring them at a critical time in their development.

The virtual series was launched after the March 12-15, 2020, event at Walt Disney World Resort ended early due to the pandemic.

“We took great pride in presenting the Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program Series,” explained Tracey D. Powell, Disney Signature Experiences Vice President and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion. “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.”

Inspired by the Disney Dreamers Academy program that has taken place at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida annually, 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 on Sept. 26, launching the series of 12 weekends filled with engaging presentations by Disney leaders, other business professionals, and celebrities.

For commencement, Disney Dreamers and their parents/guardians were celebrated with a stirring production, complete with special performances by and tributes from beloved celebrities including 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.

To add to the excitement, Disney Dreamers were awarded career shadowing externships. A first for Disney Dreamers, 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.

Even after the celebration, the virtual motivation message continued. Students were treated to an extra dose of inspiration and career advice from Disney Dreamers Academy alumni via video conference, while parents connected with Disney Dreamers Academy speakers and program advocates for a motivational session of their own.

“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,” Powell said. “This was a unique opportunity for us to touch the lives of these 100 students, and we know they are destined for great things.”

Among the selected students, 10 are from the Atlanta area. They include:

First

Last

City

State

Deesha

Panchal

Acworth

GA

Zaria

Walker

Buford

GA

Imani

Gunnison

Conyers

GA

Ashalah

Wright

Fairburn

GA

Ketsia

Alberto

Jonesboro

GA

Genesis

Weever

Lithonia

GA

Adonna

McBride

McDonough

GA

Aaliyah

Phillips

Sharpsburg

GA

Joseph

Adams

Marietta

GA

Patric

Boyd

Stone Mountain

GA

 

Tracey Powell co-hosted this year's virtual comencement ceremony for the first ever Disney Dreamers Academy 12-week virtual training program. (Photo: Disney Dreamers Academy)

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