The Disney College Program (DCP) sends thousands of college students to Orlando or Anaheim every year. So getting to room with someone from your hometown is very rare.
But for Megan Bauereis and Bridget Brady, both college students from Dayton, that’s exactly what happened during their first DCP in spring 2011.
“Bridget was just one of five of my roommates,” Bauereis said. “I didn’t know her before I came down, and I walked in and I saw her dad was wearing a UD cap—So I said, ‘Hi! I’m from Kettering too!’”
Bauereis, 23, a Sinclair Community College student and Brady, 22, a recent graduate from the University of Dayton, made a bond with each other that has outlasted their first DCP. And over the past year, the two students have stayed in contact, frequently texting one another.
“We have talked about having each other at our weddings and going on vacations [together],” Brady said. “I think our relationship has been strengthened because we live so close to each other during the year. We’re friends not just in the Disney location—you can really see that our friendship is real.”
Now the duo is returning for a second DCP in June.
“Nothing beats that first drive in to the ‘Welcome to Walt Disney World’ entrance way,” Brady said. “Its just a completely different atmosphere—I relax when I get there. Even though I’ve been going there for so long—the magic never really ends.”
Now that their second program is nearing the check-in date, both said they can barely hold back their excitement.
“I left a year ago, and I cannot wait to go back,” Bauereis said. “It’s somewhere I want to stay for the rest of my life.”
“I thought I was so lucky to get to go the first time, and to get to go again is just amazing,” Brady said. “I’ve been counting down every day to go back. I couldn’t be more excited about it, and the fact that we get to go back—let alone room together—has made me even more excited to go back.”
Brady will be working in recreation, possibly at one of the waterparks, and Bauereis will be working as a concierge at one of the Disney resorts.
Brady said she expects for this program to be just as amazing as the first time, as she has always been a Disney fanatic, often vacationing to Disney as a child.
“My parents started taking us in 1994… but we have been going back ever since,” Brady said.
Bauereis, however, never ventured to Disney before her first DCP and wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I had never been to Disney before, I didn’t know much about the history of Disney,” Bauereis said.
That soon changed as Brady’s knowledge of the parks was shared with her Disney roommate.
“She taught me Disney,” Bauereis said. “She would just explain the little things. That was the best thing about her.”
During their first experience working for Disney, they both said their favorite part of the job was the benefit of getting into the Disney parks for free, as cast members earn free access as long as they work for the company.
“That was all I did,” Bauereis said. “Just a different park each day—sometimes it would be just ride a roller-coaster and come back—but that was the best part.”
But of all the things they had the chance to experience together at Disney, one thing stands out as their favorite.
“[Bridget] was my Beauty and the Beast partner-in-crime,” Bauereis said. “Beauty and the Beast has a production at [Hollywood] Studios and that was just our thing to do.”
“[Megan] would pick me up from work, and we would go to Hollywood Studios,” Brady said. “We would just watch it and we loved it—we never got sick of it.”
Bauereis said that now that she has finished her transfer module at Sinclair, she intends on working her way toward a full-time role at Disney, and enrolling at the University of Central Florida during her upcoming DCP.
“I have my business cards ready, so I can network my little butt off while I’m down there,” Bauereis said. “I do want to study hospitality management [because] Disney has tuition reimbursement if your classes are relevant to what your position is.”
Brady isn’t sure about what she wants to do now that she has graduated, but she said that hopefully her second experience with the DCP would guide her to that decision.
“I want to see if I want to stay in the company,” Brady said. “Or if it’s just another internship before I move back to Chicago. But my ultimate goal would be to stay on with the company and work my way up to a higher job position.”
Both students said that the DCP has been very beneficial in different ways.
“[I gained] more confidence from working with people from all around the world,” Bauereis said. “It just boosted my confidence even more. [It has] made me more diverse and more confident.”
For students who are interested in participating in the DCP, but aren’t sure that they want to do it, Brady said it’s an opportunity you can’t pass up.
“Not only do you learn so much about the company, and other people and trying new things— you learn a lot about yourself,” Brady said. “Follow your dream. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you never know what it could lead to.”