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Students flock to Disney CareerStart program

Debra Brown recently returned from Walt Disney World in Florida. She loved the trip. She wants her daughter, Briteey, to have the same experience.

“It was beautiful. Beautiful,” the elder Brown said of the experience.

Her daughter might just have an opportunity to go to the entertainment park, but not as a one-time visitor. Briteey Brown, 18, wants to work at Disney World.

The Southside High School senior was one of about 100 students, parents, teachers and interested individuals who attended a session Thursday evening at the Convention Center to hear about jobs available to high school graduates or soon-to-be grads through Disney’s CareerStart Program.

“i think it would be a good experience for me,” the younger Brown said before the session began. “I’ve never been in Florida. I’d like the experience to see something besides Selma.”

After about an hourlong information session with Wayne Hampton, regional recruiter for Disney College and CareerStart Programs, Brown and about 30 others filled out applications, hoping to fill one of the job slots for next fall.

The program offers students an opportunity to work at one of the various jobs at Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif. or Disney World near Orlando, Fla. While at the parks, students build their resumes by gaining experience and learning new skills and gain independence through living on their own in gated apartment communities overseen by Disney.

This is the first time Disney recruiters have come to Selma to offer CareerStart. The event was sponsored by District Attorney Michael Jackson, the City of Selma Planning and Development Department, Selma Schools Superintendent Dr. Austin Obasohan and state Rep. Yusuf Salaam.

Dallas County Probate Judge Kim Ballard looked over the crowd from the center’s stage and marveled at the students gathered there, saying, “We have the best and the brightest among us.”

All the public officials as sponsors urged students to take advantage of the program and to apply for a slot in the highly competitive CareerStart Program.

“This is the kind of positive action I like to see from young people,” Salaam said.

It’s uncertain how many students from the area will interview or receive jobs. But the sponsors were so enthusiastic about the turnout, they promised to help with scholarships to assist with the $100 program fee and, in some cases, travel expenses.

Jimmie Coleman, who manages Calhoun Foods, stepped up and said his business would also help with the scholarship fund. After the meeting, Coleman explained it is in the area’s best interest to invest in the young people.

“They could be future employees,” he said.