Mickey Mouse and T.D. Jakes

© Copyright Disney

This weekend, March 5-8, Walt Disney World Resort will host an exclusive group of high school students for the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine. The teens, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World Resort, where they will take part in a once-in-lifetime educational and mentoring program designed to inspire them to dream big, discover a world of possibilities and prepare for their future.

Mickey Mouse and some Dreamers

© Copyright Disney

In the magical setting of Walt Disney World Resort, participants – also identified as “Dreamers” – learn important skills such as communication techniques and networking strategies, build confidence and create fun memories to cherish for a lifetime.

During Disney Dreamers Academy, the Walt Disney World theme parks become vibrant “classrooms,” where Dreamers participate in hands-on, full-immersion workshops led by industry experts. Covering a bevy of career paths, ranging from animation to zoology, the workshops do more than expose students to a career choice; they bring to life an opportunity that otherwise might seem distant or impossible.

Each year, motivational speakers, celebrities, entrepreneurs, executives and Disney Cast Members gather at Disney Dreamers Academy to share their stories and provide insight on charting a positive course and achievement.

Year after year, Disney Dreamers Academy continues to help students dream big and achieve those dreams. Entering our eighth year, it is rewarding to hear the success stories of past Dreamers and how the program has inspired them. From starting their own businesses to travelling the world helping others, to serving as inspirational speakers, our Dreamers have already had tremendous success in impacting the world. Once again, we look forward to welcoming yet another group of amazing teens.
Champion Tracey D. Powell, Walt Disney Parks and Resorts Vice President of Deluxe Resorts and Disney Dreamers Academy Executive

Walt Disney World Resort, along with Steve Harvey, syndicated television and radio personality, and ESSENCE Magazine, will host the selected Dreamers during their four-day power packed career and educational exploration.

Tracy Powell, Minnie Mouse, Steve Harvey and and Mikki Taylor

© Copyright Disney

Harvey, speaking on the program, says, “Disney Dreamers Academy gives hope and inspiration, and exposes youth to a world of possibilities. We are excited about another opportunity to transform lives and give students an inside look at what their future can hold.”

ESSENCE Communications President Michelle Ebanks added, “We are excited about the eighth Disney Dreamers Academy. This program transcends the normal classroom setting, taking learning to the next level. This year, we plan to go above and beyond to encourage Dreamers. Our valued partnership with Disney Parks and Steve Harvey represents our commitment to the leaders of tomorrow.”

This year’s students were selected from nearly 10,000 applicants who answered a series of essay questions about their personal stories, the people who are most influential in their lives and their dreams for the future.

The 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy judging panel included: Powell, Ebanks, Yolanda Adams, gospel music legend; Mikki Taylor, ESSENCE Magazine editor-at-large; Dr. Steve Perry, education advocate; Sonia Jackson Myles, founder and author of The Sister Accord; Jonathan Sprinkles, award-winning motivational speaker; Dr. Alex O. Ellis, Simply Ellis Custom Clothier CEO; Brandi Harvey, corporate and community relations director for the Steve Harvey World Group; Karli Harvey, hair artesian at U Salon in Atlanta and Princeton Parker, Disney Dreamers Academy alumnus.

This accomplished group, along with Terrence J, actor and host of E! News; Stephen A. Smith, broadcaster and sports analyst and Chef Jeff Henderson, celebrity chef and motivational speaker, remains involved in Disney Dreamers Academy throughout the year, serving members of the Speaker Resource Group, Disney Dreamers Academy’s advisory panel and ambassadors.

For more information, visit www.disneydreamersacademy.com. Regular updates about Disney Dreamers Academy are also available on social media at www.facebook.com/disneydreamersacademy or www.twitter.com/dreamersacademy.

The following students have been selected to participate in the 2015 Disney Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey and ESSENCE Magazine:

First Last City State
Shanesia Abrams Birmingham Ala.
Ta’Shara Martinestz Geneva Ala.
Kaija Johnson Carson Calif.
Kiana Deane Culver City Calif.
Morgan Buckner Fairfield Calif.
Jonathan Bowers Gardena Calif.
Keven Quach Rowland Heights Calif.
Jurnee Woodward Vacaville Calif.
Nylah Davis Victorville Calif.
Brandon Arnold Denver Colo.
Ruvencia Boyd Denver Colo.
Nicole Steiner Parker Colo.
Gary Avery Westport Conn.
Lionell Wright Belle Isle Fla.
Roniesha Alexander Green Cove Springs Fla.
Jelani Herrington Jacksonville Fla.
Regina Carson Jasper Fla.
D’Andre Ragin Miami Fla.
Keno Tate Miramar Fla.
Danyscia Jarvis Riverview Fla.
Alec Estrill Tampa Fla.
Shanese Campbell West Park Fla.
Brandon Cunningham Acworth Ga.
Brandon Iverson Atlanta Ga.
Emily Hill Augusta Ga.
Aunjelica Hutchinson Austell Ga.
Mary-Kate Billings Cartersville Ga.
Jayda Felder Grovetown Ga.
Zachary Hayes Jesup Ga.
Jalia Carlton-Carew Lithonia Ga.
Rodney Baskerville Jr. Marietta Ga.
Torey Mckissick Jr. McDonough Ga.
Caysi Ingram Peachtree City Ga.
Ashley Tousana Sandy Springs Ga.
Thomas Stewart Tucker Ga.
Aakilah Cameron Aurora Ill.
Armani Young Chicago Ill.
Aaliyah Buck Decatur Ill.
Courtney Commodore Glenwood Ill.
Gage Jackson Indianapolis Ind.
Benjamin Herman Lexington Ky.
Brandon Colbert Louisville Ky.
Jacory Bernard Lafayette La.
Tia Cage New Orleans La.
Jodee Frias Avon Mass.
Elizabeth Nalunga Waltham Mass.
Matthew Heid Pasadena Md.
Cydney Johnson Upper Marlboro Md.
Kayla McDonald Upper Marlboro Md.
Silas Shorter Dearborn Heights Mich.
Hasani Hayden Wyoming Mich.
Mikal Smith Horn Lake Miss.
Sadeja Harper St. Louis Mo.
Alexander Ennis Charlotte N.C.
Trejah Bostic Laurinburg N.C.
Nicholas Bediako Sanford N.C.
Kayla Hargis -White Burlington N.J.
Raven Smith Carteret N.J.
Al-Rahmon Kemp, Jr. East Orange N.J.
Elijah Howard East Rutherford N.J.
Jonathan Johnson Irvington N.J.
Tony Monroe Mount Laurel N.J.
Bianca Benett Bronx N.Y.
Terriya Hanley Bronx N.Y.
Terell Johnson Bronx N.Y.
Favour Anikwue Brooklyn N.Y.
Moriah McDuffie Brooklyn N.Y.
Nikki Distefano Hampton Bays N.Y.
Makai Gumbs-Riley Queens Village N.Y.
Audrey Osudoh Clayton Ohio
Karlie Harper Stout Ohio
Jeran McGill Muskogee Okla.
DeMicheal Robinson Oklahoma City Okla.
Miqael Baylor Philadelphia Pa.
Stephanie Ebbert Pittsburgh Pa.
Thomasena Thomas Effingham S.C.
Michael Witmer Rock Hill S.C.
Kourtney Smith Taylors S.C.
Madison Miller Jackson Tenn.
Dontarius Davis Memphis Tenn.
Marshall Shanks Memphis Tenn.
Taja Guidry Beaumont Texas
Mala Moore Converse Texas
Amira Spikes Denton Texas
Destiny Means Fresno Texas
Shenna Padayao Keller Texas
Shaylah Cooper Missouri City Texas
Kennedy Behling New Braunfels Texas
Kaeani Covington San Antonio Texas
Sanah Jivani Spring Texas
Virgil Thornton II Hampton Va.
Taiya Wheeling Stafford Va.
Alicia Jiggetts Suffolk Va.
Sabrina Belcher Princeton W. Va.
Samaria Hargrave Tacoma Wash.
Ross Cheek Washington, D.C.
Kevilyn Frazier Washington, D.C.
Anthony Johnson Washington, D.C.