Junior develops his dreams at Disney


Mason Thenor

From left: Houston-area student Andre Scott, Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, actress and executive producer Kelly Rowland, Disney Dreamers Academy Executive Champion Tracey D. Powell, and Houston-area student Mason Thenor arrive at Magic Kingdom to celebrate the landmark 15th year of Disney Dreamers Academy at Walt Disney World Resort in Lake Buena Vista, FL.

Eshaan Mani, Executive Digital Editor

Four days in Disney World. 100 dreams. Dozens of panels.

This is the Disney Dreamers Academy. An opportunity for America’s most enterprising teens to develop their dreams across industries, the Academy is a four-day conference that fell on March 3-6 this year. Mason Thenor, ’23 was one of the 100 students selected out of a pool of several thousand for the conference. 

“It’s an essay-based application where you write about your dreams and goals and respond to the questions they have for you. If they like what they see, they select you for a second round of elimination. Overall, you have to score above a 92 on a rigorous rubric to get in.”

Speakers at the 2022 Disney Dreamers Academy included singer Kelly Rowland and entrepreneur Misa Hylton. Each student had the chance to meet about 10 different mentors, develop their interviewing skills with hands-on education, and mingle with other Academy students. 

“The experience was surreal,” Thenor said. “I learned to think bigger, dream bigger, and do bigger. I made so many friendships and had such a fun time in all the deep dive sessions. The Academy really helped me develop as a leader and in my vision for my career.”

The deep dives Thenor references are sessions with Disney executives or other prominent figures to learn about their careers, ask them about their journey in their industries, and have a chance for hands-on education. 

“I signed up for the entrepreneurship deep dive,” he said. “We talked to the speakers about what we want to do, how to promote ourselves and brand ourselves, and our brand and our business. And even besides these deep dives, we enjoyed dinners where executives for companies spoke to us about their journeys.”

Thenor said he loved seeing all of the black professionals who are doing so many great things. 

“Especially because I don’t see them too often in our school community, seeing successful black professionals giving back to their community empowers me because I want to give back and open the door for others,” he said. 

Thenor hopes to pursue a career in either marketing or law but certainly wants to give back to his community. He strives to share information about college to the underserved students in the Houston wards. 

“I want to tell them about all the different things they can do to help them break the cycle,” he said. “I hope to find a way to educate them about college education and maybe fund scholarships for these kids. I really want to see America’s workforce reflect our society: diverse voices and diverse faces and skin colors.”

Reflecting on the experience, Thenor said he most enjoyed meeting other students and learning more about what he can do to take his career forward. He encourages other students to pursue the Disney Dreamers Academy.