This year has tried cancelling many things but one thing it didn’t stop: celebrities and top professionals mentoring 100 students who were apart of the 2020 Disney Dreamers Academy.

What’s normally accomplished over a jam-packed four day event at Walt Disney World that’s equally educational and entertaining, The Disney Dreamers Academy Virtual Program Series amplified the annual spring event into a 12 week, multi-disciplinary course. Celebrity mentors (Yolanda Adams), chefs (Jeff Henderson), motivational speakers ( Lisa Nichols, Dr. Steve Perry, ESSENCE’s Mikki Taylor) and more top professionals across industries participated, guiding students with interests in journalism, entertainment, STEM and more.

On Saturday, the program culminated in a commencement celebration hosted by Anthony Anderson, Yvette Nicole Brown and mixed-ish’s star Arica Himmel.

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“I am a dreamer. I am a celebrator of dreams. I’m an encourager of young people,” said Brown, who shared it was on her vision board to be apart of DDA because, she joked, “I needed a highlight for 2020.”

ESSENCE has been a proud partner since DDA’s inception and longtime cover & beauty director Mikki Taylor serves a yearlong mentor. ESSENCE CEO Caroline Wanga gave words of advice to the 2020 class, encouraging the Dreamers, to “go figure out your purpose in the world. Pursue it… Go make the change you were born to make here.”

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Celebrity participants for the virtual commencement included Jamie Foxx, Trevor Jackson, chef Carla Hall, singer phenom Keedron Bryant and fashion disrupter Dapper Dan.

But the root of DDA isn’t tied to the celebrities who sign on as mentors, either virtually or in real life. For this 12 year program started by Steve Harvey, DDA’s mission is shoring up the next generation of entrepreneurs, creatives and thought leaders.

“So often we have a conversation with young people and talk about them being the future, but I want you to understand you are the now,” said Dr. Steve Perry, a longtime DDA mentor. “You cannot always focus on what the future is because you have now to live…. Make sure that your gifts are given to others. That’s what makes them a gift.”

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Congratulations 2020 Disney Dreamers

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