Teens from across America participated in a four-day transformational and hands-on, full-immersion workshops led by industry experts in a host of career paths at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida. The 100 young scholars were selected to participate in the 11th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and Essence magazine.
It was Houstonian and high school valedictorian Christina Okafor’s first-ever visit to Disney and she was “overwhelmed” to be selected to have the experience. To be able to hear from motivational speakers and celebrities is an amazing experience. I will take what I learned to pursue all my dreams,” she tells rolling out. Okafor has a special interest in the medical field, specifically, rheumatology to help those suffering from autoimmune diseases with no cure. She is applying to Harvard.
Basking Ridge, N.J. high school student Sean Smith says he’s “learning a lot.”
An encounter with a real-life war hero inspired Smith to pursue a career in aviation. He attended an air show where Tuskegee Airman Eugene Robinson was a speaker. After the event, Robinson gave Smith the uniform hat off his head and signed it, which was especially motivating and “pretty cool” for Smith who says he doesn’t meet many people with the same level of interest in aviation that he has. That moment led Smith to follow in the footsteps of the Tuskegee Airmen and he has been taking flight lessons since sixth grade and is a member of his local aerospace club. “It’s the N85 Aerospace Club. We just received an airplane that we are going to [restore.]”
Each year, motivational speakers and celebrities, including Steve Harvey, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and Celebrity Chef Jeff Henderson, share their stories and provide insight on how to achieve success and “DREAM BIG.”
–coverage provided by Alonda Tucker and Ciara White-Sparks. They served as our on-site videographer and on-camera host, respectively.
Please check out the photo gallery below and video interviews of Okafor and Smith.