April 2010, Volume 14, Number 2

Academics

They’re going to Disney World!

Illustration of MDC logo on a platter

Imagine being lucky enough to make "The Most Magical Place on Earth" your learning ground. This semester, 94 MDC students from the Hospitality Management, Business and Communication programs are doing just that, through the College’s partnership with the Disney College Program. The five- to seven-month-long program takes place entirely at Disney’s headquarters near Orlando, where students take courses that count toward their degrees and participate in a paid Disney internship that allows them to apply their skills in a real-world setting.

Students can choose to focus on either hospitality management or business. All courses are aligned with MDC’s coursework and curricula. Students take courses in other academic disciplines online, through MDC’s Virtual College.

"The most important thing you learn is definitely teamwork. There are about 60,000 people working at Disney, and you have to work together," said Diaundrea Sherill, a hospitality management student who worked in Disney’s culinary program last year. As a chef’s assistant, she prepped the kitchen before and after closing, prepped and portioned the food, and worked with a large team to ensure the kitchen was clean at day’s end. On a typical day, she’d wake up at 5 a.m., then work an eight- to 10-hour shift at restaurants in such as the Magic Kingdom’s Plaza Restaurant, Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort and the Polynesian Resort. "The thing about Disney is that they have [very high] standards. When you finish working at Disney, you really see the difference between Disney World and the real world," Sherill said.

The experience is a chance to learn from a world-leading, internationally recognized name in the industry, but the program also offers additional perks. Students get to experience college life Disney-style, with on-site housing, transportation and even discounted guest passes to the parks. Most importantly, it provides them with opportunities to network with industry leaders at workshops and lectures.

"The students are very happy that they are being exposed to the Disney’s hospitality management and business philosophies," said Shelly Fano, director of MDC’s Hospitality Management program. "The thing that impressed me the most is how much Disney cares about them. They really take them under their wing."

— NM


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