Olentangy High School sophomore Meghana Boda has been selected to participate in Disney’s exclusive Dreamer Academy Program, which is held annually each spring at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
Boda is one of just 100 students to be selected out of thousands of applications submitted from across the country, and one of just five students from Ohio to receive the honor.
The Disney Dreamers Academy is an educational mentorship program created and hosted on March 3-6 by Walt Disney World Resort. According to a press release announcing the program’s 2022 class, the academy is engineered towards “broadening career awareness and creating exclusive opportunities for Black students and teens from underrepresented communities across America.”
The press release further stated, “This year, the impactful program will introduce the Disney Dreamers to an array of new immersions designed to continue to foster the dreams of young leaders beyond imagination, including career-building workshops, networking sessions, mentorship connections, and introductions to future professional opportunities at The Walt Disney Company and beyond.”
To apply for the program, Boda had to answer three short answer questions and three essay questions. Admittedly, Boda didn’t believe she would gain admission into the program but rather wanted to see how the process went in preparation for applying again next year.
“I thought it was really cool that Disney Dreamers is training the leaders of the next generation, and I thought it was really cool that they were providing this opportunity for everyone across the United States,” Boda told The Gazette of her decision to apply. “Even though it is really competitive, the things that they offer, like taking you to Disney, meeting these incredible people in Florida, and the whole experience that I’ve seen through videos and all, it was really eye-catching.”
Boda was notified on Dec. 8 that she had been selected, a moment she called “insane.” However, in disbelief that she’d been fully accepted, Boda wasn’t sure if she’d made the program or simply moved on to the next round of considerations. It wasn’t until earlier this month when Boda knew with certainty that she was heading to Disney.
“When I found out, I was literally jumping,” Boda said. “They released the list on the website, and I was hoping my name was going to be there. It was there, and I was like, ‘Oh my God.’”
Asked what she felt set her application apart from others, Boda said, “I put a lot into this application because I knew from the getgo that (Disney Dreamers Academy) was extremely competitive. So I knew that one of the main things I had to focus on was showing my true self, letting my personality shine through, while also highlighting the things I’ve done in the past.”
With an ever-increasing range of talents, Boda had no shortage of accomplishments to highlight. In particular, she focused on her recent work with a professor at Georgetown University to write and publish a book on the rising student loan debt crisis. She is also a member of the Columbus International Children’s Choir, the school speech and debate team, and the tennis team.
Boda said she is really excited about the various conferences in which she will participate, noting that one of the guest speakers this year will be Steve Harvey, who she is particularly excited to hear from. As part of the application, Boda had to identify at least three potential career paths, and she chose law, entrepreneurship, journalism and acting. By identifying interests after school, the Dreamers will gain exclusive access to some of those industries’ most successful talents during the conference.
“They also have shadowing experiences through which you get a lot of opportunities, and I think that will be really helpful for me, personally,” Boda added. “We will meet people who have backgrounds in those areas, we’ll get to know their experiences and get personal advice, and I think that is really cool.”
Of course, while the trip will serve as a significant building block towards whichever career aspirations she ultimately settles on, it won’t be all work and no play in Florida for Boda. Included in the trip is time for her and the family to enjoy the theme park as well, and as both a big Disney and roller coaster fan, Boda is very much excited for her first trip to Disney World.