All Disney characters take on a journey to get their “happily ever after.” My Disney fairy tale is no different and I was honored to share my story with the graduating class of Villa Park High School (VPHS) during their Baccalaureate. I’ve learned a lot since I graduated from VPHS, and it was rewarding for me to return to my alma mater to speak to the students and hopefully inspire them to reach their potential.
I began my Disney career between my junior and senior year at VPHS at the Village Haus in Fantasyland serving food at the counter. I quickly realized I wanted to work in the kitchen preparing food so I asked the kitchen lead if there was anything I could do to help. He said I could clean the refrigerators, so I did. I worked five nights a week for months to make them shine. Finally, my perseverance paid off and I was able to help prepare the food and eventually became kitchen lead myself.
I shared this story with the graduates to remind them that everyone starts somewhere. Perseverance, hard work and a little bit of patience will move them forward. Today, I feel fortunate to have a job that was explicitly designed to help others through leading teams at our Disney Parks around the world who manage thousands of Disney VoluntEARS and millions of dollars in charitable contributions, including a college scholarship for VPHS’s own Michael Salmond. I truly believe everyone can make a difference.
Vice President, Corporate Citizenship
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts