Mirror, mirror on the wall? Who's the luckiest one of all?
Kaitlyn Keich of Hometown is about to embark on a journey guaranteed to fulfill her childhood dreams, but luck had very little to do with it. It's due to her hard work and determination.
As a child, Keich and her family vacationed at Walt Disney World in Florida and she was determined to revisit the magic. That dream comes true later this month when she travels to the Lake Buena Vista/Kissimmee area as part of the Walt Disney World College Internship/Co-Op Program.
The 2010 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School will then spend six months portraying the characters that once filled her dreams.
Will she lose her glass slipper and find a Prince Charming? Will she gentle the Beast or play referee between seven short men? Will she be able to let her hair down or have to kiss a frog?
For Keich, it's not important which characters she's able to portray, it's just a dream come true to be able to portray one at all.
After three semesters at Lehigh Carbon Community College's Morgan Center in Tamaqua, and Carbon Campus in Nesquehoning, Keich began looking into internship programs. When she found the Disney opportunity, the magic was rekindled.
The Disney College Program offers college students an opportunity to gain on the job experience in the Disney Parks and Resorts, while meeting and sharing experiences with people from throughout the country and around the world. From expanding their knowledge through a classroom filled with international students, to creating memories of a lifetime, young men and women discover new worlds through the Disney program.
Participants are paid by the hour, working full-time hours on days, evenings and weekends in conjunction with the parks' operating hours. No two jobs (roles) are exactly the same, but all offer the opportunity to develop communication and problem-solving skills in a unique environment, while gaining valuable college credits. It is open to students 18 and older who are enrolled, and actively taking classes, at one of more than 300 accredited institutions of higher learning.
The application process is extensive and applicants are allowed to list four to five areas in which they would like to work at Disney.
"The interview process is quite rigorous," notes Keich.
One interviewer took notice of Keich's performance background as a longtime student and teacher at the Gloria Dillon School of Dance and asked if she would be interested in character portrayal.
"I started dancing with Gloria Dillon when I was 3," says Keich. "When I was in high school, I became a student teacher at the dance school and continue teaching there today. So, of course I said yes."
That led to an additional interview and competitive auditioning process. Keich traveled to Philadelphia's Rock School of Dance in October to audition. She then had to wait until the rest of the nationwide auditions were conducted before getting final approval the next month. She won't know what her assignment will be until after she arrives at Walt Disney World and gets settled into one of the company's four housing units.
In addition to her full-time studies (earning a 4.0 grade point average), and work at the Dillon School of Dance, Keich also holds down a part-time job at the Hometown Commons Walmart, working 30-35 hours per week. Both of her employers look upon the internship as an educational experience and are providing leaves of absence for the next six months.
Keich says she can't wait until Jan. 20 to continue her journey through the looking glass.