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Disney Dreamers Academy panelists share message of entrepreneurship

Carla St.Louis | 3/20/2014, 9 a.m.
When you wish upon a radio show like KiAundra Kilpatrick your dreams come true. Ask 17-year-old Kilpatrick, a Miami Gardens ...
Television host Steve Harvey shares his secret to success to Dreamers at Disney Dreamers Academy, giving anecdotes on the principles of success and entrepreneurship. “A dream is paramount in a young person’s life,” says the comedian. “It propels them to get an education. You must attach the dream to an education; it does a miraculous thing for a child when he or she uncovers their dream.” Photo credit: Disney Disney

When you wish upon a radio show like KiAundra Kilpatrick your dreams come true.

Ask 17-year-old Kilpatrick, a Miami Gardens residents who was among dozens of students all over the country who shared an intimate and fun learning environment at Walt Disney World.

Kilpatrick, along with 99 other students, were selected for an all expense paid trip for four days to the popular theme park with figures like TV host Steve Harvey, gospel singer Yolanda Adams and more acting as “educators.”

Amid the fantasy of the Magic Kingdom and the whimsical proclivities of Mickey Mouse and other animated characters, Kilpatrick explored the wonderful world of Disney before re-discovering another exciting thing: herself.

From the sharp turns and deep drops of Space Mountain, Kilpatrick left her roller coaster life and became a kid all over again as various mentors encouraged her to dream big.

Wish Upon A Star

It was the Dreamer Academy, a program that Disney started in 2007 to provide leadership and mentoring through educational classes, counseling and meaningful trips to Cinderella Castle and Its A Small World.

Throughout the four-day Academy, Dreamers carry notebooks filled with notes on expanding leadership skills, tapping into their creativity and lessons on fearlessness and resiliency. For example, one student was interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs and was given a chance to test a robotic arm during a Deep Dive session, an intimate, interactive learning workshop.

Admission to the Academy is competitive. 10,000 students apply but only 100 are chosen to participate, according to the program. Applicants must write an essay that shows strong writing and leadership skills and their future goals.

Fifteen students from diverse backgrounds were chosen from Florida, which had the highest number of participants than the 27 states represented on the trip. Kilpatrick was the only student from Miami Gardens and Miami-Dade County.

It Was All A Dream

Kilpatrick’s fantasy ride all began while listening to the Steve Harvey Morning Show one day where the radio host mentioned the Dreamers Academy. Excited, Kilpatrick applied online and the rest is fodder for Disney folklore.

“Disney Dreamers Academy is inspirational,” said Kilpatrick. "So far what I’ve found is that its helping me change my mind set. They are pushing me to see that I have greater capabilities that are possible.”

"I’ve always been around environments of negativity," she said. "I’ve had my own situation where I felt I wasn’t good enough to accomplish certain things. Since I’ve been here I haven’t had a negative thought yet."

Soft spoken with long loose curls, Kilpatrick attends School of the Advanced Studies at Miami Dade College where she is enrolled in the school’s dual enrollment program currently taking college courses. Upon graduation, she will receive her associate degree in computer science.

“It forces you to look at your life in another way and see the bigger picture which is anything that you want to be, do or dream is possible," she said of her Academy experience. "You will rise to the occasion. They must see potential in us and they are trying to get us to see that within ourselves to become productive members of society.”