May 12, 2010
Knox College juniors Kelsey Ingle and Jordan Chalk are preparing for an off-campus learning experience where they're likely to cross paths with Mickey Mouse and Donald Duck just about every day.
They will take a leave from Knox during fall term 2010 to participate in the Disney College Program at Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, where they will work, interact with Disney executives and take classes.
The curriculum's numerous course offerings include hospitality management, organizational leadership and entertainment show production. Everyone must take a class in "Disney traditions" and learn the company's vocabulary - referring to customers as "guests" and employees as "cast members," for instance.
Ingle, pictured at right, is a theatre major from Waukesha, Wisconsin, and she looks forward to getting a behind-the-scenes view of the daily performances at Disney World.
A longtime Disney enthusiast with a thorough knowledge of the company's films and animated characters, especially Goofy, she has visited Disney World more than a dozen times. Her bedroom in Waukesha is full of Disney memorabilia, and the walls are painted in colors from the Disney Home line, such as Mickey Mouse's "Sorcerers Hat," a shade of blue.
Chalk, a creative writing and Spanish major from Glenview, Illinois, never has been to Disney World.
"I've always wanted to go," she said. "I love all the movies."
Ingle and Chalk, members of Pi Beta Phi sorority, already have spent one term away from the Knox campus. Ingle studied in Dublin, Ireland, at the Gaiety School for Acting, and Chalk studied in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Both work as Knox Ambassadors, mingling with alumni at Homecoming and other special events. Ingle, who is minoring in English literature, also is a writing tutor at the Center for Teaching and Learning. Chalk co-hosts a music show on student radio station WVKC.
Ingle will begin at Disney College on June 14, while Chalk will start Sept. 1 after she spends the summer in Norway teaching English. They expect to work in one of the Disney stores and will live in Disney-provided housing.
Both will stay through early January 2011.
As soon as Ingle learned about Disney College, she thought it sounded like a great fit for her.
"I feel like it's kind of been a long time coming for me," she said, adding that she once dreamed of becoming a Disney animator. "I'll be doing the Disney College program with the intent of eventually getting a job at Disney."
Shortly after applying for Disney College, Ingle suggested it also could be a good option for Chalk. Chalk agreed, and Ingle helped her navigate the three-tiered interviewing process.
Ingle admires Disney for many reasons, including its track record for telling wholesome stories.
"Disney strives to be a company that has a moral compass, and I really appreciate that and would love to be associated with something that holds itself to such high standards. I feel I do that as a person," she said.
So does Knox College, she noted.
"I think that Knox and Disney are similar not only in their moral compass, but in their can-do attitude," Ingle added. "Knox has afforded me many opportunities that I don't think I would have had at other colleges."
Ingle was reminded of the parallels between Disney and Knox when she received an informational folder after her admission to Disney College.
"It was purple with yellow lettering, and I had flashbacks to being accepted to Knox," she said. "I've gotten two very important purple folders in my life."
Ingle and Chalk are confident they'll reap long-term benefits from their Disney experience.
"I don't know yet what it's going to teach me or what it's going to have in store for me," Chalk said. "I think it's going to open doors in a way I can't see yet."