Members of the HWS community can be found across the country, even at the “happiest place on earth.” Sarah Cifaratta ’13 and Katie Kastan ’16 have been accepted to the Disney College Program, a semester-long paid internship for college students. Cifaratta is currently participating in the program in Walt Disney World, Florida, taking the class “Exploring Guest Relations” and working with the merchandising department in one of the hotel gift shops. Kastan will take part in the program in Florida in the fall.
The Disney College Program, founded in 1981, gives students an opportunity to live and learn in the Walt Disney World or Disneyland community. The competitive program has gained international attention and provides students with an academically oriented work experience. Referred to as “cast members,” students enrolled in the program are housed at their respective location in either Florida or California.
“I get to talk to people all day long, which I absolutely love,” says Cifaratta. Her job has allowed her to participate in many different activities, such as becoming Disney-certified in American Sign Language and Spanish. She has also participated in “pin-trading,” which allows her to further interact with the guests.
Her participation in this program makes her eligible for a Disney Professional Internship, which allows students to work in a field that is more closely related to their career aspirations. Cifaratta hopes to be able to stay with Disney and get a professional internship in hospitality.
For Cifaratta, a communication studies major and education and cognition, logic and language double minor, making the decision to be off-campus for her final semester as an HWS student was difficult. “Coming from someone who loves HWS, it was a hard choice to make. But it was worth it!” Describing her experience so far as “completely awesome,” Cifaratta encourages more HWS students to explore the opportunities Disney has to offer.
Cifaratta and Kastan met while living in Comstock Hall last semester. The two bonded over their love of Disney, and Cifaratta was able to help Kastan as she applied to the program. Kastan went through the application process in about a month, and is one of the few first-year college students to be offered a spot in this program. As a self-proclaimed Disney fanatic, Kastan is excited to have free admittance to the parks, as well as to be able to “work at Disney and make people’s experiences as good as mine have been.”
Kastan will be working as a food and beverage cast member, in one of the Quick-Service food and beverage locations. Kastan plans to double major in studio art and media and society at the Colleges, and also hopes to be accepted to the Disney Professional Internship program in a corresponding field.
The top photo features Sarah Cifaratta ’13 and below, Katie Kastan ’16.