BYUH student says Disney College program helped him learn to find peace in life’s unknowns

Brandon Galli with his arms full of Disney stuffed animals.

Photo by Christal Lee

He was given his dream job and then snatched away from him within a year, said Brandon Galli, a junior from Utah who majored in elementary education. He said he wondered why this was happening. During this time of confusion, he said one thought stayed with him: “God has always been the one who has been there for me, he has never let me down, so why would he let me down now?”

The Disney College program is an opportunity for students to work at Disney World or Disneyland and earn college credits in the process, Galli said, explaining that he was accepted into the program in 2019 and stayed there until 2019. in 2020, when he was offered his dream job as a character attendant. He said his role in this job was to oversee the encounters between the characters and the guests.

Galli said COVID-19 forced Disney to abandon 30,000 people, including him, in the midst of achieving his dream. He said he found peace in leaving the next stage of his life to God even though he didn’t know what the next chapter of his life would bring.

After a year of waiting in Florida for Disney to reopen and offer him his job, Galli said he feels the next chapter in his life is at BYU-Hawaii.

Galli said it was a difficult decision for him because on the way home, before flying to Hawaii, he received a call from Disney offering to return to work. upcoming decision [to BYUH] and I couldn’t go back. …It convinced me that this is where I’m meant to be [and] this is where God wants me. He said he had to move on to the next chapter of his life. “I realized that some things are best remembered.”

Find passion and purpose

Olivia Hixson, a senior from California who majored in hospitality and tourism management, said she was recently accepted into the Disney College program.

Hixson said her first semester at BYUH didn’t go as planned as she struggled to find peace due to anxiety and lack of family. It was hard to find ways to cope and heal, so even though she didn’t want to go home during the pandemic and changed her mind several times, she said coming home was exactly what she needed. . “It was the only way for me to find more of myself,” she explained.

portrait of a girl with brown hair wearing a long sleeved black shirt with the words "PARUH SEASIDER" in red lettering and an image of Mickey Mouse next to the year 1955 on it, standing at the tables next to the Aloha Center ballroom with his arm propped on a ledge and smiling for the photo

Olivia Hixson wearing BYUH Disney clothing.

Photo by Christal Lee

Although something unexpected happened, Hixson said her planning and research, such as creating to-do lists, helped her cope with the new changes.

When she returned home during the pandemic, she said she got a job at a hotel reception, which allowed her to apply what she learned in her hospitality classes. She said it helped her heal because she found more of a purpose for her life in her passion for hospitality.

Hixson said she also found things to look forward to in life. She explained that she sees life in stages and that people have to take small steps to figure out what they want to do. “I get a lot of satisfaction from my jobs. … That’s how I got more confidence back,” Hixson said.

She said she came to BYUH to study hospitality with the goal of a long-term career at Disney. She added that she had decided to pursue her dream and was working hard to achieve it. they work hard.

Getting into the Disney College program served its purpose, so she said she looks forward to what her next step will bring. “My greatest hope has already come true because I wanted to work for Disney,” she added.

embrace life

Annabelle Greene, a freshman from Utah who is an indecisive major, is starting the Disney World internship in April 2022. She said she learned to face life with arms wide open. Although she took many steps to get to BYUH, she said she didn’t expect it to be so difficult without family and friends.

Although it was difficult, Greene said she learned and grew from coping with these changes and healing. “I was able to accept experiencing new things,” she said. One of those new things was applying for the Disney internship, which she said she might not have done before this experience.

portrait of a female student with red hair braided to the side and dressed in black "Mulane" T-shirt and smiling

Annabelle Green wearing her “Mulan” t-shirt.

Photo by Christal Lee

Greene said her new outlook on life is, “Just watch what’s going on and embrace it.” She said BYUH prepared her for her internship at Disney because of the diversity she got to experience, and that the Disney internship “is another step towards broadening [her] horizons and meet people from all over the world.

Galli said he learned to embrace the time left in any chapter of life. During his last shift at Disney, he said he met a child named Isaiah who suffered from Down syndrome and cancer. He said as the little boy approached Mickey and Minnie, he said to Isaiah, “Oh my God, Mickey and Minnie have been asking for you all day, Isaiah.”

Galli said everyone was crying and “it was a magical moment”. Of the experience, Galli shared, “It changed my whole perspective on how there are bigger things and God has a plan for me.”

find peace

Hixson said that through the unknown, she found peace through her passion for her career. She added that the key to dealing with distance from family “is navigating those ups and downs” and accepting that you don’t have family nearby at the moment.

Galli said: “Disney showed me how important it is to find this [I] believe in.” He explained that change can cause grief, but through his experience at Disney World, he discovered his belief in magic and its power to heal grief.

He explained that he saw the magic through God in his life, but someone else might interpret the magic in his life in a different way. Galli said the magic he saw comes from serving others. “I can’t see God sitting next to me, but I can see my friend sitting next to me,” he explained. He said he was always there for his friends and ready to serve them, and they do the same for him.

Greene shared, “The energy you give will be the energy you attract.” She said she uses this thought when she wants to make friends. She added that she tries to be the type of person she wants in her life.

Hixson said finding support people is one of the most important things about coping with the unknown, like going to college away from family.•

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