How the Disney Aspire Program Helps a Mom's Dreams Come True
Ready to get inspired, Disney fans?
Disneyland is the happiest place on earth and that goes beyond making dreams come true for their guests.
Earlier this year, Disney launched Disney Aspire, a $50 million higher education program designed for the people behind the magic at Disney parks: Cast Members. With this initiative, Disney partnered with Guild Education to cover 100 percent of tuition upfront, as well as reimburse application fees and other required materials for potentially 80,000 hourly employees.
Needless to say, Disney Aspire is a gamer changer for Cast Members who are seeking new opportunities, including individuals who want another chance at higher education such as Lida Guerrero, an inspiring 42-year old mother and reservation sales agent for the Walt Disney Travel Company in Anaheim, California.
Guerrero is no stranger to obstacles in life.
As a teenager, Guerrero was unable to finish high school after experiencing something that no person should ever have to endure. She then moved out of the United States where she had to start working immediately to help support her family financially.
"It was really tough as my parents had to start all over again in a country in which they left many years ago in search of the American Dream," Guerrero told Women.com.
Despite this, Guerrero worked hard to complete her GED and associate's degree, all while supporting a family of her own. Now, with a little help from Disney, she's well on her way to receive her bachelor's degree in Business Administration with an emphasis in Organizational Leadership through the Disney Aspire program. And if that isn't something to celebrate, we don't know what is.
We invited Guerrero to share her story, her experience with Disney Aspire, and advice she has for moms headed back into the workforce. Read what she has to say below!
WDC: Why did you choose to apply to the Disney Aspire Program?
LG: I selected this route because of its wonderful benefits through Disney. I get to finish school while working and Disney pays for my education up front. I am able to select flexible online classes and Disney also pays for books and any additional fees. I could not be happier! The company has given me an opportunity to excel and show my talent.
WDC: How do you imagine the Disney Aspire Program helping you reach your education goals?
LG: Number one, I will not have the added stress financially. It has been really hard for my children and myself coming from a home of domestic violence with my ex-husband. I had to work extremely hard in order to survive. Disney Aspire will allow me to get much closer to my educational goals. This is definitely a blessing in our lives.
WDC: What kind of support has Disney and Guild Education provided you throughout this process?
LG: The support has been absolutely amazing! From the moment that I first signed up until now, Guild coaches have always been in contact with me and have provided an array of useful advice for my education. I have also had support from my department and immediate manager. It's such a blessing that I have this opportunity to meet such wonderful people who have been by my side through this process.
WDC: What are your career goals after you get your BA in Business Administration?
LG: Disney is such a wonderful company to work for, and I've picked this company for my future career. I have had experience in the airline and hotel industry and, along with my education, I know that I will be such a great asset to the company. As soon as I achieve my B.A. in Business Administration, I will definitely continue to seek advancement.
WDC: What are your tips for people applying to the program?
LG: Be open to the advisors and listen to what they have to say. Communication is key, and through this process I had constant communication with advisors and coaches. The moment you delay any part of the process means valuable time and opportunities are unfortunately missed. When I was looking for the right school I was confused and it was overwhelming for me. I contacted my Guild advisor who gave me clarity and I actually picked a school that I did not have on my initial list of potential schools. I was able to research the school and I am 100 percent satisfied with the selection I made.
WDC: What are your words of wisdom for other mothers who want to go back to school?
LG: I know it can be challenging to wear another hat. But I know that for the mothers out there in the same playing field as me, we are looking for a better future for ourselves and our families. It is not impossible. For me, it is about scheduling, organizing, balancing and prioritizing every responsibility. What really helps me has been my calendar and looking to see my day ahead. I also like to give myself some time, whether at the gym attending a dance class, walking or even getting myself pampered. We must be able to give ourselves that time because of all the work and responsibilities.