Happily Ever After: The Conclusion of My Disney College Program by Rebecca Hallman

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About a year ago, I wrote a blog post about my experience in the Disney College Program. As you might recall, I was sent home early due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and I told you there would be a happy ending. So, I guess, here it is my happily ever after. 

In May of 2021, we received notification that the Disney College Program would be starting again with priority being given to people who were already accepted or already in the program when it was shut down. It may shock you to hear that this was not an as clear cut decision as you would think. The plan was to graduate in the spring of 2022, go on to do student teaching, and eventually start my life in the “adult” world, I had never expected to be in this position again. I had to weigh getting to complete the dream that was taken from me, or getting to do all the senior year things with the people that I loved here. It was an incredibly difficult decision to leave the life I had planned for myself here. 

Through the help of my advisors and the support of my parents, I decided to go back and complete the college program. As I said in the last blog post, some things are just learned outside the classroom, and what I have learned in my college program indicates that all college experiences are valuable, whether or not there is a direct correlation to your major. 

In doing this program again, I was able to see my friends that I had lost and make a whole group of new friends who I will never forget for the rest of my life. I was a lifeguard again, this time at Blizzard Beach, so I improved upon all of the skills that I learned in the last program, like teamwork and communication. 

The Disney College Program also changed me as a person, fundamentally. I have always been a person who struggled with confidence and trusting myself. From start to finish, I had to learn to trust my decision-making, whether that was to even go on the program or to know how to save someone who was in danger in the water. This certainly had its ups and downs, there were times when I knew I was doing the right thing, and there were times when I could not have been more uncertain. In my post-Disney College Program life, I know I can make the decision that works best for me, and I know that I am capable enough to make it. 

With all this in mind, I could not have done this without the abundant support of the College of Arts and Letters and the Citizen Scholars program. My advisors helped me find the path that I needed to take and helped support me in that decision. The brilliant thing about this college is that they were willing to put aside the four-year college narrative and see the importance and the value in the experience that takes place outside of it. Yes, finishing in four years is great, and if that is your goal, they can help you make that happen. But, if you decide that the road that you take to your career is a little bit curvier, with more detours, they can help with that too. College is the experience that you want it to be, and with the guidance of people who support you, you can go on to achieve those dreams. 

And, so our journey comes to an end, but mine continues on. I am so excited to see where my future leads at Michigan State University and all the fun adventures that will come in store for the next year.