Dreamers, You Are Now Dismissed... To Dream

11/03/2011 03:39 pm ET | Updated Jan 03, 2012

I am from kool-aid stained countertops, lively Baptist churches, and the infamous strife of a single parent. I am from an imprisoned father, a substance abused mother and liquor stores and churches on every corner of my neighborhood. I hate to sound blunt, but long story short, I am a baptized, god-fearing, self-raised, crack-baby.

Where I am from, dreams only come up in a conversation about sleep. At one point, I did not know what I wanted to be when I grew up, I just wanted to do better than my parents, which meant accomplishing three things:

  1. Graduate high school
  2. Don't get caught up in drugs
  3. And ultimately, don't go to prison.

After that, I honestly did not really know, well, I knew I wanted to do more, I just didn't know I actually could do more. All my teachers told me I was smart, but I didn't think they were allowed to tell me otherwise. This was my outlook on life, not too long ago. I am sure everyone has an epiphany at some point in their lives, or an experience with such high magnitude, it can change a person's course in life. Disney's Dreamers Academy was that experience for me. The academy made me realize so many things that were already before my eyes, I just could not see them. They made it clear to me that I was somebody and I could do anything. I am currently in my first year, studying at The University of Florida, and actually graduated Summa Cum laude at my high school (in the top 1 percent of my graduating class).

"Dreamers, you are now dismissed... To dream" When I first heard these words, they overwhelmed me with the realization that the most memorable and prized experience I had ever encountered, had officially ended: they brought a flood of tears to my eyes. I will never forget the people I met, or the encouraging words and stories that were shared with me, and of course I will always cherish the wisdom that Steve Harvey so passionately embedded in me, and the other 99 Disney Dreamers. I met people who were from the same place that I am from, who are striving to achieve their dreams. I even met people in all types of professions that were willing to provide advice, guidance and encouragement. I met a woman so lovely, who went by the name of Sandra, who helped guide me through the whole experience. I had the time of my life, enjoying the Disney theme park and making new friendships.

The Disney Dreamers Academy was a part of my life that I will never ever forget. In only a few days, they helped mold me into the young woman that I am today. And there is no way that I can sum up an experience like that, or that I could talk about all the events and activities they provided for us. On the last day of the ceremony, they bestowed graduating rings upon us, with the Dreamers Academy logo on them. I have worn mine every day since, to remind me to follow my dreams and never give up on them. Disney's Dreamers Academy with Steve Harvey was an experience of a lifetime, and to everyone who made that experience possible; I am forever in debt.