Kylie Taylor Enjoys the “Happiest Place on Earth”
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
An extended stay at the “Happiest Place on Earth” seems like a great way to escape Nebraska’s winter months. Kylie Taylor can attest to that. A Communications Arts and Sports Management double major at Bellevue University, Taylor was accepted into the Disney College Program and spent January through May 2018, working in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
“I missed all my friends and everyone who was in Nebraska, but I did not miss the fact that I was missing out on the winter months,” Taylor said. “I’m down there in 80-degree weather. It was awesome.”
The Disney College Program allows participants to network with leaders, take part in personal and career development classes, and build transferable skills such as problem-solving, teamwork, guest service and effective communication in addition to gaining valuable on-the-job experience working in the parks and resorts.
Taylor participated in the program along with her former teammate on the University’s women’s soccer team, Whitney Pratt. Participants are provided housing about 10 minutes from the resort. The pair had four other roommates, from Pennsylvania, Virginia, Florida, and Georgia, with whom they navigated the Disney experience.
“We got to hear about each different place. All of the friends that I started working with were all from the East Coast,” Taylor said. “I have about 10 different places to go visit on the East Coast now.”
Taylor applied for the position in the fall of 2017 and went through a web-based interview and a phone interview before being selected. Participants indicate their preferences from a long list of jobs and are offered a position when they are accepted into the program. Taylor selected lifeguard as her top choice and landed the role.
“You’re in the ‘happiest place on earth,’ but you’re definitely logging some hours and putting in some hard work,” she said. “The program had a positive impact on my work ethic. I enjoy taking on challenges.” Participants also took advantage of networking events and other activities as a part of the internship.
“I really appreciate having the opportunity to do those kinds of things,” Taylor said. “Disney owns ESPN and ABC. I really want to get into TV broadcasting and those events may provide some inroads toward that.”
It wasn’t all work for Taylor during her time in Florida. Along with Pratt and her roommates, she did some snorkeling at Devil’s Den Spring, attended the spring football game at the University of Central Florida, and visited a roommate’s home town in Tampa, Florida as well as more than a few trips to the beach.
“The scuba diving was amazing and it was fun to see what other colleges are like,” Taylor said. UCF has an enrollment of over 70,000 students and is the second-largest school in the country.
Recently, Bellevue University has partnered with Disney through its Disney Aspire education program. Through the program, the Walt Disney Company will cover 100 percent of tuition for hourly employees upfront and will also reimburse application fees and required books and materials.
Taylor was thrilled to learn her University would be able to assist her new friends at Disney.
“People all over the country are already using Bellevue University as an online education option and now they’re partnered with Disney,” Taylor said. “At Disney World alone, they employ over 60,000 people. How many people still need to go to school? Disney’s willing to pay for your education – that’s an amazing benefit from an already amazing company.”
Taylor is currently working on the final four classes of her double major and should finish up in spring 2019. She came to the University from Bellevue West High School. A soccer scholarship was the icing on the cake that helped convince her that playing and studying at her local school was the way to go. She played four years for the Bruins, primarily as a defensive midfielder, finishing her career in 2017. She appeared in 64 matches and totaled four assists and one goal in her career.
“I’m really happy that soccer came on my radar and that I came here,” Taylor said. “I have a bond with my teammates that we’re going to have forever. Even though I’ve exhausted my eligibility, they still include me in everything.”
Taylor praised the efforts of all her instructors, singling out Dr. Brenda Mechels and Bob Danenhauer in particular.
“Brenda and Bob are both people that I have an immense amount of respect for,” Taylor said. “They’re influential people and people that can help you if you put in the work.”
Currently working at Orangetheory Fitness in Omaha, Taylor hopes to combine her love for fitness, athletics, and communication in her career. She’s worked as a freelance videographer at local sporting events and has an eye on several other possibilities, including an internship with the U.S. Olympic Committee and a job with Lincoln-based athletics software company Hudl.
“Between my academic experiences, soccer, the Disney program – Bellevue University has been great,” Taylor said. “I can’t wait to see what’s next!”