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COLUMN: How I got an education through Disney Aspire

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Allen J. Schaben/TNS and Allen J. Schaben/TNS | The Daily Wildcat Disneyland debuts its new Disneyland Forever fireworks show in celebration of its 60th anniversary on May 21, 2015. One of the little-known facts about Disneyland Park is that parkgoers can commandeer the Mark Twain Riverboat.

Hey Disney lovers, ready for another behind-the-scenes look at the Magic Kingdom? I thought you might, so sit back, relax and enjoy another magical journey through the Walt Disney Company. This time, I thought I would tell you about how I ended up at the University of Arizona.

Through our company program “Disney Aspire,” I am able to attend the UA completely online.  Disney Aspire is the company’s education investment program that allows eligible hourly employees and cast members to have an opportunity to pursue their education goals and put their career dreams within reach. Through Disney Aspire, tuition is 100% covered by Disney. This is a huge perk, especially when student loan debt in America was calculated to be 1.7 trillion at the end of 2020. Since student loans are some of the largest problems that the country faces today, it is wonderful to have a company such as Disney that will pay for your education. Cast members must work for the company for three months, choose a program that you like, submit your application and wait for the school to get back to you. Cast members are allowed to earn one bachelor's degree or one master's degree. 

Disney partners with the Guild Education, a company that organizes which schools and degrees will be offered to participating companies. Guild Education was founded by Rachel Romer Carlson and Brittany Stich, and thanks to these wonderful women, Guild Education has provided over 2.7 million employees the opportunity to pursue higher education through their employer. Many large companies, such as Chipotle, Walmart and Discover also give their employees educational opportunities through the Guild. 

Disney has over 12,000 cast members enrolled in 13 different schools across the country. Disney allows cast members the choice of trade schools, high school continuation, bachelor's and master's programs. Salaried managers are not allowed to participate unless you were promoted while you were in the program. Disney allows those cast members to finish their degree. 

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I was not sure at first if I wanted to go back to school; I did not enjoy taking a lot of classes, and I wanted to focus on my career at Disney. My mind was changed when the UA was added to the program. The UA is a very recognizable college, and many of its alumni reside in California. One day, as I was interviewing for a transfer into the parks, my hiring manager was from Arizona and went to the UA. We talked about the campus, college football and how thankful I was that Disney Aspire made this possible.

I have enjoyed every second of my time at Arizona, and I have Disney to thank for that. This is just another example of what makes Disney the most magical company to work for. After I finish my bachelor’s degree in accounting, I plan on earning a master’s degree. The UA does not offer master’s degree classes through the Guild, but I am hoping that will change soon! I am sure many of you are taking online classes with a Disney cast member and did not even know it. I speak on behalf of all of us and say that we are happy to be here and are enjoying our experience here at the UA. I hope you enjoyed this story of Disney helping cast members around the world accomplish their academic dreams. As my friend Tigger would say, TTFN (ta ta for now)!


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Sean (he/him) is a business administration major from California. He enjoys playing video games and watching Disney+ in his free time.


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UA COVID-19 Test Tracker

Daily (9/21)
993 29 2.9%
Total (8/2)
23,557 463 2.0%
Includes tests since August 2, 2021
Data from https://covid19.arizona.edu/updates
Updated September 21, 2021