Sept. 23, 1997
KALAMAZOO -- Five Western Michigan University students (see list below) traveled to Florida to learn about the real world in the land of make-believe by participating in the Walt Disney World College Program.
The program provides a unique, multifaceted experience designed to increase practical knowledge of the various Disney entertainment and resort industries.
The selected students are part of Disney's fall program, which takes place from September to January. WMU students joined other undergraduate students from more than 200 colleges and universities throughout the nation. Since Disney representatives began recruiting at WMU in 1993, more than 80 WMU students have participated in the program and have joined the ranks of more than 30,000 college program alumni worldwide.
Students are hired through an interview process and must be pursuing their degrees full time and in good academic standing at WMU.
The college program consists of three components: living, learning and working experiences. Students live in the Vista Way apartment complex, located on the Disney property. Participants share fully furnished two- and three-bedroom apartments with students from other colleges and universities.
The learning aspect, called the Walt Disney World College Program Educational Curriculum, involves core business classes, elective seminars and self-directed study opportunities. Five core business classes focus on the Disney culture, situational leadership, communication, the business world and cultural change. These seminars include lectures, interactive case studies, and individual and group activities. The electives allow students to personalize their learning experience and provide networking opportunities with professionals from various departments and disciplines within the Walt Disney World Resort.
The work experience places students in positions at the various theme parks, resorts and other Disney operations. Students serve as "cast members" in areas such as merchandising, transportation, attractions, food services, custodial services, lifeguarding and hospitality.
While many of the students are receiving academic credit for the program, they also have an opportunity to receive a "Mousters" or "Ducktorate" degree upon successful completion of the program.
After successfully completing the program, students may apply for advanced internships that enable them to obtain more focused experience in a specific field. More than 60 advanced internship opportunities are offered, ranging from the Disney Cruise Line Marketing Internship to the Horticulture Internship.
Upon their return to campus, the students will become members of the Walt Disney World Program Alumni Chapter of WMU, which was established in 1996 to provide networking opportunities as well as promote the development of the Walt Disney World College Program at WMU.
KEY: State, city, student's name, home address. Class, major, position.
BATTLE CREEK--Wendy R. Reynolds, 493 N. Wattles Road. A junior majoring in interior design, she is serving as a food and beverage hostess at EPCOT.
CHARLOTTE--Elizabeth A. Lawrence, 1940 E. Clinton Trail. A senior majoring in tourism and travel, she is serving as a merchandise hostess at the Magic Kingdom.
KALAMAZOO--Abigail Pohlonski, 3760 Cedaridge. A senior majoring in Spanish, she is serving as a culinary assistant in the Magic Kingdom.
NOVI-- Kelly R. Worges, 24897 Fairway Hills. A junior majoring in French and accountancy, she is serving as a park greeter hostess at the Magic Kingdom.
KEWANEE--Bill D. Jordan, 1008 W. Mill. A senior majoring in communication studies, he is serving as a merchandise host at the Magic Kingdom.
Office of University Relations
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5433 USA