Paris kid takes part in Disney Dreamers Academy

Joshua Koch

PARIS, Ky. (WTVQ) – A stirring production, tributes from beloved celebrities and powerful musical performances marked the December 12 commencement ceremony for the first Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program Series.

A Paruis, Ky., teen along with some from Louisville, were among the 100 teens from across the country 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.

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Inspired by the Disney Dreamers Academy program that has taken place at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida annually since 2008, 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 September 26, 2020, 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 treated to a stirring production, complete with special performances by and tributes from beloved celebrities such as 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 Disney Signature Experiences Vice President and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. 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.

“We took great pride in presenting the Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program Series,” said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell. “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.”

Even after the celebration, the virtual motivation continued. Students got 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,” said Powell. “This was a unique opportunity for us to touch the lives of these 100 students, and we know they are destined for great things.”

Disney Dreamers Academy traditionally brings together 100 students 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.

The list of selected students nationwide is as follows (by state):

First Last City State
Landon Humphrey Clovis CA
Kamila Kaloyan Coronado CA
Lydia Kim Cypress CA
Makayla Gubbay Encinitas CA
Audrey Hoven Fort Irwin CA
Michael McPhie Irvine CA
Taylor Haywood Los Angeles CA
Nicole Munoz Pacific Grove CA
Bridget Darrah Sacramento CA
Yakari Jackson Sacramento CA
Blain Engeda San Leandro CA
DAndre Jorge San Marcos CA
Sydney Vaughn Sunnyvale CA
Micah Norton Berthoud CO
Makenna Turner Lafayette CO
Cassidy Wilson Oxford CT
Nicole Hemphill Newark DE
Estefania Alcala Belle Glade FL
Jonathan Williams Boca Raton FL
Zachariah John Boynton Beach FL
Jonathan Shelton Jacksonville FL
David Daise Kissimmee FL
Rouri Hall Lauderhill FL
Emma Moise Miami FL
Simone Till St Petersburg FL
Nia Marshall Williston FL
Deesha Panchal Acworth GA
Zaria Walker Buford GA
Imani Gunnison Conyers GA
Matthew Chisholm Cumming GA
Ashalah Wright Fairburn GA
Ketsia Alberto Jonesboro GA
Genesis Weever Lithonia GA
Joseph Adams Marietta GA
Adonna McBride McDonough GA
Cleveland Newton Pooler GA
Aaliyah Phillips Sharpsburg GA
Ceci Smith Statesboro GA
Patric Boyd Stone Mountain GA
Caitlyn Carter Valdosta GA
Jeremiah Lewis Chicago IL
Jaden Maloney Chicago IL
Kennedy Crye Joliet IL
Sophie Schneblin Morton IL
Mary Catherine Hanafee LaPlante Mount Prospect IL
Ariyana Irving Gary IN
Brylee Huber Burlington KS
Kaniya Harris Louisville KY
Erica McPheeters Louisville KY
Joshua Koch Paris KY
Jarius Gipson New Orleans LA
Morgan Lance Littleton MA
Caroline Curran Pocasset MA
Caitlyn Lynch Hyattsville MD
Alexander Spiller Detroit MI
Maria Cheriyan Farmington Hills MI
Nylah Dobson Southfield MI
Kaelynn Gore Florissant MO
Ethan Alsup Hamilton MS
Mauricsa Woods Jackson MS
Abby Waters Casar NC
Morgan Wright Fayetteville NC
Ivanya Johnson Kinston NC
Brynna Miller Monroe NC
Reagan Razon Morrisville NC
Sterling Thomas Riegelwood NC
Timothy Hoffman Norfolk NE
Aisling Smith Auburn NH
Jessica Carscadden Chester NH
Grace Lunney Newmarket NH
Sydney Cobb East Windsor NJ
Sadie Munoz Maplewood NJ
Fatoumata Soumare Brooklyn NY
Myah Mitchell Cambria Heights NY
Matthew Roberson Chittenango NY
Hannah Tuso Livingston Manor NY
Danielle Phillip Valley Stream NY
Claire Martin Lakewood OH
Trinity Marsh Lyndhurst OH
Taria Clay Springfield OH
Belise Nishimwe Portland OR
Caroline Gray Bath PA
Tawni Doliveira Ebensburg PA
Conor Amendola Erie PA
Ajae Richardson Norristown PA
Mikayla Merin Philadelphia PA
Caia Roberts-Jones Columbia SC
David Jackson Columbia SC
Hannah Rutland Ridgeway SC
Korrie Jolivet Beaumont TX
Nevaeh Deleon Houston TX
Kaila Simmons McKinney TX
Theodore Mielke Prosper TX
Keshav Vasanth Richardson TX
Aralyn Hilliard San Antonio TX
Amari Mealy Alexandria VA
Esha Venkat Ashburn VA
Azaria Cherry Norfolk VA
Kailin Frye Woodbridge VA
Gabrielle Ragsdale Orting WA
Emily Rinick Cross Lanes WV
Gabriel Adams Elizabeth WV