From the Disney Parks Blog and written by: Thomas Smith
Whether they’re pursuing a career in the legal field or aiming to better their community, our cast members are reaching their educational goals and dreams – all thanks to Disney Aspire. This groundbreaking education investment program provides a variety of degree and certificate programs from in-network schools with 100% of tuition, including book and fees, covered by Disney.
For Viviana Mendez, Team Lead at the Disney store in Times Square, putting her #DreamsWithinReach means earning a Bachelor of Psychology degree with aspirations of pursuing a role in Human Resources at Disney!
Viviana began working at the Manhattan Disney store as a seasonal cast member nine years ago. As time went by, her passion grew as well as her roles in the store. She enjoys making emotional connections with guests by finding the perfect product to complete their experience.
“Nothing is more satisfying than seeing a smile created from an engagement with a guest,” said Viviana.
Bringing Disney magic to guests that don’t have the opportunity to visit the parks is her favorite aspect of working at the Disney store. Interacting with guests each day and being able to listen and connect with cast members sparked her interest to study Psychology, as watching their behavior improve inspires her.
As a single mother, Viviana puts her family first. Although she always wanted to get her degree, she had to pause her educational pursuits when she struggled to balance her work and family life and also could no longer financially afford to continue.
“I am truly grateful and appreciative of Disney Aspire for allowing me to finally fulfill my desire of going back to school – a dream I’ve had for a long time,” said Viviana.
When Viviana first learned about Disney Aspire, she was overjoyed! Finally, she was able to pursue her dreams at no cost, all thanks to this groundbreaking education program.
“When I first heard about Disney Aspire, I channeled my inner Ernesto de la Cruz from Coco, as I ‘seized my moment!’”
The flexibility of the program has allowed Viviana to be well on her way of reaching her dreams! Even though the program is offered online, she doesn’t feel alone in her journey. She has built relationships with her fellow classmates and her leaders and coworkers have been extremely supportive.
Viviana shared: “My classmates are helpful and they share the same enthusiasm about the program!”
Her dream career goal is to one day have her name appear on the door of her own office – whether within Disney HR, or even outside of the company at a hospital or school. And with this desire, she wants to create a space of her own for anyone that seeks guidance or support.
“Listening and helping people and partnering with them to see their capabilities beyond their struggle is what I would love to achieve,” said Viviana.
Since launching in 2018, this unique program has been helping eligible Cast Members like Viviana to pursue their dreams. Stay tuned for more stories about how Disney Cast Members are putting their #DreamsWithinReach with Disney Aspire!
Learn more about Disney Aspire by visiting aspire.disney.com.