By Jasmine Johnson
Special to the Afro

One Maryland student has received the opportunity of a lifetime. Caitlyn Lynch, 18, of Hyattsville is among 100 outstanding high schoolers chosen to receive an all-expense paid trip to Disney World for the 13th annual Disney Dreamers Academy March 12-15. Each year, the program selects distinguished young people from around the country to inspire them to do great things and to make a difference in the lives of others. 

“I was motivated to apply for the Disney Dreamers Academy because I realized it was an excellent opportunity and it provided me with excellent career fundamentals that I need to pursue my careers in the technology field,” said Lynch. “I want to be a machine learning engineer and really work hands-on with Artificial Intelligence. I feel the Disney Dreamers Academy will provide me the perfect opportunity to strengthen my core elements in the fields of technology and engineering.”

Caitlyn Lynch meets with a reporter at Morgan State University February 15 to share the good news about The Disney Dreamers Academy. (Photo by Jasmine Johnson)

The participating students, known as “Disney Dreamers” will have the Walt Disney World theme park as their playground during the experience. They will spend time in a classroom setting  learning about building their careers and following their dreams. Celebrity Steve Harvey and Essence Magazine leaders will be among the motivational speakers. 

“After 12 successful years, we know the profound impact this program has on these students,” said Tracey Powell, Walt Disney World Resort vice president and Disney Dreamers Academy executive champion. “One dream can change the world, and through Disney Dreamers Academy we hope to help these amazing teens turn their dreams into reality.”

Patray Evans-Lynch and Caitlyn Lynch meet with a reporter at Morgan State University February 15 to share the good news about The Disney Dreamers Academy. (Photo by Jasmine Johnson)

Lynch is being homeschooled and graduates this year. She plans to attend Howard University this fall to study computer science. 

“This is a very exciting moment for her especially this time of her life as she blossoms into a young lady,” Patray Evans-Lynch, Caitlyn’s mom said. “I’m proud to be here as her cheerleader. I always tell her that your name will go further than you will, so this is the time to do good, make good decisions because your parents aren’t going to be here forever.”

Disney said more than 1,000 participants have been through the program since 2008. The selected students are chosen from thousands of applicants who answered essay questions about their personal stories and aspirations for the future.

As Lynch prepares for this experience, she continues to take part in activities she enjoys such as cheerleading, drawing, and cosmetology. She wants to blend her love for technology and cosmetology. “Technology groups need feminism and diversity. The industry lacks both. I feel that I can be the perfect candidate to bring both to the table,” Lynch said.