Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA) didn't just give me words of inspiration about how my dreams can come true; it showed me a picture of it. To many of us, dreams at their inceptions seem like mere figments of imagination. When we close our eyes and picture what we want to be, and what we want to do, we are transported to a land, an idea, that anything is possible. Then we open our eyes and view the desolation of our communities, the segregation in the media, and the various difficult roads ahead, we are quickly jolted back to a reality that makes it look like nothing is possible. DDA showed us examples of what was possible. They didn't say "dream big", and then show us unattainable images; they showed us African-American Disney representatives, entertainers, journalists, engineers, and opened our eyes to a world beyond our living conditions and environment.
Dreamers Academy changed my life not only by enlarging my dreams and understanding, but also by introducing me to more than 100 other young visionaries who possess the same drive, tenacity, vigor, and capacity to dream. These young people each had a unique story of their own, that brought them to Orlando, and they each had somewhere they were trying to go. A kinship formed between many of us, because we realized that we were all on the same road, fighting the same fight, and we had been given the opportunity of a lifetime. Because of DDA, I know that no matter how many negative images are portrayed in our culture, no matter how many stereotypes there are in the world, real promising young leaders do exist. I was among them, I conversed with them, and I'm friends with them on Facebook.
One of my fondest memories of Dreamers Academy came on the third day, as the day began to turn to evening, and all 110 Disney Dreamers sat anxiously in a closed off room. Suddenly from behind the stage, Mr. Steve Harvey came out, and walked onto the stage to a crowd that had erupted in applause. As he began to speak, we all sat with our cameras and cell phones open to capture his every word, and seven minutes into his words, he asked that all of our cameras be put away, not out of concern for his image, but out of concern that we hear with our ears, and our heart, what he had to say. This showed all of us, that this wasn't about coming to Orlando to meet celebrities; we were coming to receive an impartation of knowledge from people who really care about the next generation. The preeminent lesson that I learned, is that when you have something, you must do something. If you can't see your dream helping someone, then you probably shouldn't be dreaming at all. I am grateful for my DDA experience, but I now realize that the experience has become a responsibility for me to impart that inspiration and hope into other budding dreamers.
Since DDA 2011, I was the featured speaker at my high school graduation. I participated in an internship with Essence Magazine at the 2011 Essence Music Festival in New Orleans, Louisiana. I then traveled preaching, and sharing my experiences to three different states. At the close of summer, I celebrated 10 years of ministry and my graduation from high school. Most of all, I've used the lessons learned and my inspiration gained from DDA, to push me to take advantage of every opportunity. This commitment to taking initiative started when I applied to DDA in October of 2010. I was up against 4,000 other applicants and the application process seemed intimidating. I went ahead and faced all odds and fears, and my acceptance as a 2011 Disney Dreamer confirmed the notion that I did have something to offer the world if I simply took the first step, and took advantage of an opportunity. I don't let my fear of what others will think, or my fear of my own ability, keep me from taking advantage of the opportunities set before me. I have experienced too much and I've had too much invested in me, for me to stop short, and not put effort behind my dreams. So I will continue to pursue my dreams, by attending USC starting in January 2012 to major in Public Relations, with a double minor in Business and Music. In the meantime, I work at three different Convalescent and Rest Homes, where I conduct music and entertainment sessions with the residents. I am also working on a website for Princeton Parker Ministries, and looking forward to founding my own youth organization, to empower other young people to look beyond their circumstances, and push toward their dreams with purpose.
My own personal philosophy is actually the 3Ps that I deduced from the DDA experience, and they are: Preparation, Priority and Purpose. You prepare by writing down those dreams, and where you want to go. Prepare yourself in class, learn and build yourself. Prioritize the things of importance, and work towards something. In all of our pursuits, we must always remember the purpose, because a dream is fully manifested when it fulfills a purpose.