When I was a child, I dreamed of working for Disney. This idea came to me when I was around 6 years old and saw my first musical, The Little Mermaid. As I grew up, this dream became more distant to me since many did not consider it “realistic.” Years passed by and my interests developed and that little dream of mine was put on the back burner. I was told that college was supposed to be my new dream, so I stuck with that. I applied to Virginia Tech and did a whole semester. Everyone said I would feel amazing being in college and that it would be so much better than anything I did in high school. I thought it would be, but I found myself still feeling like something was missing. How could it though? I got into an amazing school and have a lovely degree, so what was going on?
I decided during winter break to analyze this: why wasn’t I fully happy and how could I even accomplish pure “happiness?” I spent my whole break trying to figure out things to do to enhance my Virginia Tech experience. Did I need to join more clubs? Did I need to go out more? Did I need to do more undergraduate research or go to more Living Learning Community events? How could I remedy this? During the break, I couldn’t find out the answer. I had no answer. I was completely and utterly lost. It wasn’t until I was working on an assignment with my friend Nathan that we found a solution. It was a late-night homework session and while he was doing work, I was just venting to him. Then he said, “You know what would be cool? Working at Disney.”
It was such an outlandish response that I just decided to google the requirements just to amuse myself and then I stumbled on the Disney College Program. I looked and saw all you had to be was 18 and in a four-year school. On a whim, I submitted my application that same night. I didn’t think I would even hear back until I got an email for an interview. When I say I was jumping in my dorm bed so much it was shaking and I thought it was going to de-loft itself…I am not exaggerating. But then I had to see if it was an actual thing I could do. I hadn’t even told my academic advisor yet or my family. I was so scared so I sent an emergency appointment to my SOAR (Student Opportunity and Achiever Resources) advisor to get some emotional support. I grabbed the earliest date I could for my meeting and set off.
During the meeting, I was holding back tears as I tried to explain myself. I felt like I had to prove I wasn’t being stupid or trying to skip out on college; I just needed a win. I needed something. This was a compromise for Little Brooklyn and College Brooklyn, a way for us both to be happy. My SOAR advisor was amazing, he said nothing hurtful and was genuine with his support. He didn’t know much about the program, but he vowed to help me on this journey and that was all I needed. Then I went to my academic advisor, trying not to cry once again because I knew this was going to mess up my academic plan. I was so used to past advisors writing me off or saying it was too difficult for me to do things or to just settle, but my academic advisor was not only supportive but encouraging. She extended our meeting in order for us to remake an academic plan and coordinate what I needed to do. She did extra steps and emailed many people just to make sure I could do what needed to be done. I didn’t even think any of this was possible.
The Disney College Program was possible with Virginia Tech as it would be considered a part of CEIP (Cooperative Education and Internship Program). It allows you to have the opportunity to be a part of Virginia Tech and have some of Virginia Tech’s benefits while also working or interning. The people with this program were so nice and helpful. I didn’t expect it. I thought the college would be like: “No, ur school is best. You need to stay here.” but it wasn’t. They only care about your well-being; I should expect that from a school, but I have been let down in the past.
As I approach the end of this school semester, I have been on autopilot as I wait for my departure date and get to go live at Disney. At first, I was scared about settling or messing up my future, but now after the support I got from Virginia Tech, all I feel is excitement and enthusiasm for my future. Nothing else matters, just my happiness and Virginia Tech helped me understand that some more. I have never felt happier.
So a letter to all the beautiful people reading this, you never have to settle. You shouldn’t have to for your happiness. The people you would least expect to help you may be the ones who are here to support you the most.