State Farm® stories hit home at 15th Annual Disney Dreamers Academy
First in-parks sponsorship opportunity inspires 100 students from across the U.S.
“When you find your purpose and embrace it, great things happen.”
These words, shared by State Farm executives Sonya Robinson and Christopher Gude, rang loud and proud at the 15th annual Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA).
The four-day program, held at the Walt Disney World® Resort annually in March, nurtures the career aspirations of teens from across the country, particularly Black/African-American students and those in underrepresented communities, by encouraging them to DREAM BIG.
Like a Good Neighbor
Following the news of a multi-year strategic alliance with Disney, Sonya and Christopher were honored to represent State Farm at the Academy. The former State Farm agents now oversee business development and growth in western states.
“Getting a chance to spend time with the students and share my story … I was in their shoes 30 years ago,” Christopher said. “I want them to know they have what it takes to succeed.”
During a workshop dedicated to helping Dreamers thrive, the pair got personal, shedding light on their modest upbringings in rural communities where opportunities were limited.
“Being an African-American child in the South was not easy and I often faced racial adversity and exclusion,” Sonya explained. “I didn’t let that stop me. Through education, work ethic and the strength of those before me, I overcame obstacles.”
“Challenges are part of the journey,” Christopher said. “It’s how you respond that determines your success.”
The Pursuit of Purpose
Sonya and Christopher’s testimonies resonated with teens and adults. During DDA, the duo shared words of wisdom at networking events, workshops, and an exclusive ‘Neighborhood DA Jam’ party sponsored by State Farm.
“Having the opportunity to learn from such dynamic people is incredible,” said 16-year-old Dreamer from Jacksonville, FL, Christianna Alexander. “I’m inspired.”
During an entrepreneurship dinner, Christianna, who is also a published author, shared her aspirations with Sonya and Christopher.
“They encouraged me to keep reaching for the stars,” she said. “Their experiences affirm I’m on the right path. I’m going to keep working hard while lifting others up, too.”
Disney Dreamer alum Matthew Young (2014) echoed Christianna’s sentiments.
“This academy surrounds you with people who are dedicated to pulling out the best in you. Through this process I have learned, grown and realized new possibilities,” Matthew said.
On the final day of the academy – graduation – students received a ring. The gift symbolizes where they’ve been, what’s to come and the joy derived from relentlessly pursuing your passion.
“Always remember to believe in yourself, support one another, and encourage each other’s destinies,” said Sonya.
About the alliance:
State Farm and Disney are committed to giving back to communities, spreading joy and creating unforgettable memories. Consumers will see the alliance come to life in ways such as Good Neighbor Month celebrations (September), the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend (January 2023), Disney podcast sponsorships and more. State Farm will also sponsor two venues located at Walt Disney World® Resort: State Farm Waterview Park at Disney Springs and State Farm Field House at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
For 100 years, the mission of State Farm has been, and continues to be, to help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams. State Farm and its affiliates are the largest providers of auto and home insurance in the United States. Its more than 19,400 agents and approximately 53,400 employees serve over 87 million policies and accounts – which includes auto, fire, life, health, commercial policies and financial services accounts. Commercial auto insurance, along with coverage for renters, business owners, boats and motorcycles, is available. State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company is the parent of the State Farm family of companies. State Farm is ranked No. 39 on the 2021 Fortune 500 list of largest companies. For more information, please visit http://www.statefarm.com.