Commencement address from Halle Bailey brings the 16th annual Disney Dreamers Academy to a close at Walt Disney World

Mar 27, 2023 in "Disney Dreamers Academy"

Disney Dreamers Academy 2023 Commencement Ceremony
Posted: Monday March 27, 2023 8:52am ET by WDWMAGIC Staff

This past weekend, 100 students from across the country celebrated the conclusion of the 16th year of Disney Dreamers Academy with an emotional commencement ceremony at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, featuring an inspirational speech by Grammy-nominated singer Halle Bailey, who will play Ariel in the upcoming live-action remake of Disney's "The Little Mermaid." 

The annual four-day event also included empowering sessions from a host of celebrities; special once-in-a lifetime surprise opportunities for students; performances from Disney Live Entertainment; and a ring ceremony to mark the teens' special achievement at the culmination of the event.

Opening day Walt Disney World Cast Member and former Walt Disney World President George A. Kalogridis was awarded the Disney Dreamers Academy Hero of the Year.

16 year old Maria Maione, who testified on behalf of the deaf youth community in front of the NJ Senate to pass the Deaf Student Bill of Right, was named the 2023 Disney Dreamers Academy Dreamer of the Year.

The teens, recognized as Disney Dreamers, were selected from among thousands of applicants to participate in the mentoring program. Created and hosted by Walt Disney World, the program broadens career awareness and creates opportunities for Black students and teens from underrepresented communities across America.

The 100 students, along with a parent or guardian, received an all-expense-paid trip to Walt Disney World to participate in the program.

"Disney Dreamers Academy is an important part of Walt Disney World's commitment to supporting Black students and teens from underrepresented communities across America, by encouraging the next generation to think big and to carry what they learn back home with them," said Tracey D. Powell, Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. "We hope to encourage these dreamers to relentlessly pursue their dreams and make a difference in the lives of others."

The event was highlighted by some unique experiences for all the students as well as some special surprise moments, where select teens received "dream-come-true" career opportunities and experiences, such as:

  • All 100 students enjoyed an exclusive opportunity to be part of a magical parade at Magic Kingdom Park with Bailey.
  • Several students experienced the new TRON Lightcycle / Run before its official opening at Magic Kingdom Park on April 4.
  • Two aspiring teen filmmakers were surprised by Bailey with a personal invitation to join her on the red carpet at the upcoming world premiere of the live-action remake of Disney's "The Little Mermaid" in Hollywood.
  • Three teens interested in music careers got a surprise visit from Grammy award-winning artist H.E.R., who gifted each teen an autographed guitar.
  • One student interested in a broadcast career was surprised by ABC's Good Morning America, which invited the teen to take part in an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the show from its New York studios.

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wdwmagicMar 25, 2023

Halle Bailey surprises two aspiring teen filmmakers with an invitation to be the star's personal guests at Disney's 'The Little Mermaid' live-action movie world premiere

WDWFanRayMar 23, 2023

Go Dreamers! I’m glad to see that almost everyone was represented.

wdwmagicMar 23, 2023