After three days of getting instruction from experts and inspirational figures to help them be equipped to make their dreams a reality, the 2022 class of the Disney Dreamers Academy graduated from the educational mentorship program.

Just as every day prior was packed with grand displays and events, the graduation, a culmination of all that was experienced, was an awe-inspiring celebration. Students heard from this year’s celebrity ambassador, singer Kelly Rowland. She shared her own story, of going on Star Search with Beyoncé and her groupmates from Girl’s Tyme and losing. That experience fueled them to reach their goals of getting a record deal, and the end result was that they’d become one of the biggest girl groups of all time. “If we weren’t fearless in going after we wanted, we wouldn’t be able to live with passion,” she said. She also shouted out individual Dreamers, reading out the things they shared as plans for the future and how they hoped their accomplishments would help and inspire others. In the end, she encouraged all of this year’s participants to be strategic in going after the desires of their heart, because “dreams without goals are just dreams.”

There were performances, including from gospel crooner Mali Music, performers from Disney, who did everything from a performance of Donald Lawrence’s “The Best is Yet to Come” to a riveting medley of classic R&B and funk and even a step show.

Members of the Disney Dreamers Academy Class of 2022 celebrate during the landmark 15th year of Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. The Disney Dreamers Academy, taking place March 3-6, 2022 is a mentorship event hosted annually by Walt Disney World Resort that fosters the dreams of Black students and teens from underrepresented communities.

But the most captivating moment of the entire ceremony, perhaps the entire four-day program, was when Tracey Powell, executive champion of Disney Dreamers Academy, instructed the parents and chaperones of the Dreamers to place the class rings the students were receiving on their hands. They were instructed to share an encouraging message while doing so. Plenty of people were in tears at the display.

I thoroughly enjoyed each day of the Disney Dreamers Academy experience, but was moved most by the commencement ceremony. Reels of the activities the teens took part in over the weekend were played back, one group of Dreamers won a social media challenge (which they were very excited about), and the energy in the room gave the impression, not only to the students but to everyone present, that the sky is the limit when you are driven.

And, may I add, my heart was warmed to see all of the connections the Dreamers made with one another. During the weekend they had the chance to shout one another out for acts of kindness. As I prepared to travel home, riding the Mears bus back to the airport with many of the students, I saw them hug one another and mention how, even though it may be some time before they would see each other again, they would keep in touch. So not only was the weekend an opportunity for these kids to gain the tools needed to make their mark in the world in a greater way than they already have, it also allowed them to make new friends and meet people, likeminded teens with goals, from around the country. What an experience.

We hope you learned a lot about what the Disney Dreamers Academy is like for young changemakers. Be sure to have your child apply in the fall to take part in next year’s program in the hopes of being chosen for the class of 2023. We hope to see you there!

Check out our recap of day 1, day 2 and day 3.