Jasmine, 17, plays several sports and is in the concert, pep, marching and jazz bands at Henry A. Wise, playing trombone, clarinet, bass clarinet, French horn, mellophone and piano. She participates in Civil Air Patrol and JROTC programs, as well as the occasional beauty pageant.
“I don’t believe in kids having idle minds. I’ve gotten her and her brother, Isaiah, into so many positive things,” said her mother, Rosalyn George. “It’s hard to do with teens nowadays, but I take a cell phone now and then, I take a TV. I’ve been blessed. Jasmine and Isaiah really make single parenting easy.”
Last October, the family’s continual striving for excellence, discipline and personal achievement took a turn for the whimsical, when Jasmine and Isaiah heard about this year’s Disney Dreamers Academy, a program their cousin had explored the year before.
“I love Steve Harvey. We listen to him in the morning sometimes when Mom drives us to school. And I love Family Feud,” said Jasmine. When Harvey mentioned DDA on his radio show, Rosalyn encouraged both her children to apply. Jasmine was one of 100 students chosen to participate in the four-day career exploration program held in the Disney theme parks in Florida, based on essays she wrote about her life, her plans and the heroes who inspire her.
“This year there were more than 5,000 applicants,” said Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey Powell. “The beauty of (our selection process) is that of course GPA and community service count, but also the other side of the spectrum. We absolutely choose students who through horrific situations continue to have a dream and pursue that dream.”
The Dreamers will spend four days in seminars, small group and individual sessions geared toward helping them turn their dreams for a future career into solid plans.
“The four Disney parks are the Dreamers’ classroom,” explained Powell. “Pretty much every profession exists at one point or another at Walt Disney World.”
The students participate in “skimmer” sessions giving general information on careers presented by professionals and celebrities, and two “deep dive” sessions where they meet one-on-one with someone working in the student’s chosen career field.
“Information and connections are inherent to the program,” said Powell, who explained that the details of the program come together only after the 100 students are selected.
“It’s a mixed bag. Of the 100, once we know who we’ve chosen, it’s a matter of what they are interested in. Once we understand the Dreamer, we pull together the program,” using talent from Disney Cast Members like Powell--who is director for theme park and resort pricing for Disney, and professionals from the Orlando, Fl. region and around the country. Each share, “a passion for our projects and a passion for kids,” Powell said.
Jasmine plans to attend Bowie State University in the fall, to study social work and business administration.
“I’ve always wanted to help and work with children. I hate to see children who don’t have a home and family,” said Jasmine.
The point of the program, Powell said, “is really to provide an opportunity for high school students to get inspired, motivated, and prepared for making their dreams come true. We help the students dream big, discover a world of possibilities and get a jump start on making that a reality. This weekend has the ability to change lives, but it’s not the only input.”
Jasmine and her mother would agree. For a young person surrounded by determined family, it’s just one more reinforce the positive lessons of life.