MEMBERTOU – They say Disney World is a place where dreams come true, and that slogan rings true for a woman from Membertou who is heading there next month for a summer internship.
Kelly Paul, a hospitality and tourism management student at Cape Breton University, said applying for the park’s cultural exchange program was a last-minute decision.
“We need two internships for the (CBU) program, and I knew I wanted to get off the island and see the world, but it was a little overwhelming, and I was just applying to random places and I felt discouraged,” she said.
“Then I remembered the Disney College Program – I always wanted to do this but I wasn’t in school so I looked and applied and had my interview two days later. .”
Disney summer internship programs require participants to be enrolled in an accredited college or university and are open to applicants from more than a dozen countries.
Paul was in Halifax for a few days when she received her invitation for a virtual interview. It was a scramble to get the necessary documents sent, then she thought she had ‘bombarded’ the interview, but a few days later she got her offer for the 10-week cultural exchange program internship. in Orlando, Florida.
“It’s really exciting. We live in apartments on the property with roommates, so I’ve just joined all the (online) groups and I’m already making connections, finding friends, so I’m really excited,” she said.
“I’ve been obsessed with Disney ever since I went there when I was 12 — I wanted to work there, I wanted to live there — but I didn’t think I could ever really do it,” the youngster said of 25 years. , who even has a tattoo of Mickey Mouse.
“I was not well placed and just wanted to give up, but my first nephew was born and I just wanted to be better for him.” —Kelly Paul
The founder and namesake of The Walt Disney Company is quoted as saying, “All of our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them” – a philosophy that Paul wholeheartedly believes in.
After high school, she struggled with anxiety and depression and “didn’t make good decisions.” After a few attempts at post-secondary education, she worked odd jobs and felt directionless and knew she wanted to make changes in her life.
“I wasn’t in a good place and I just wanted to drop out, but my first nephew was born and I just wanted to be better for him. I finally decided I was ready to go back to school and that was the one of the best decisions I’ve made,” said Paul.
She was drawn to CBU’s Hospitality and Tourism Management degree program because of her passion for travel. The internship in Orlando, during which she will sell merchandise at one of the theme park’s many gift shops, will conclude her first year of the three-year degree.
Paul is especially thrilled to represent his small community of Membertou.
“When I filled out my paperwork there is a place where you put where you are from so it will be on your tag and I put Membertou and I am so excited to have it there,” a- she declared.
She’s already planning her next concert at Disney — the 12-month cultural performance program at Epcot’s international pavilions — but in the meantime, she wants to share her story to empower others who might be struggling as things get better. improve.
“Being a First Nations woman and struggling with your mental health or whatever, you may feel like it’s all against you, but being raised around strong, empowered First Nations women really pushed me to do it,” Paul said.
“You have to work for it and you have to make things better for yourself and then things really work.”