Fifteen-year-old Yvette Cabrera’s dream is to open her own dance academy. The Andrean High School sophomore has danced for nearly 10 years and hopes when she’s older to bring that same love to needy or disabled students in an academy offering free dance lessons. 

“I want everyone to know that they have a chance,” Cabrera said. “No matter where you come from, no matter how your background is or how bad your life is, you may think, you can always be something.”

It was sharing that dream that ultimately earned Cabrera a spot in the 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy on March 21 through 24 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.

Disney Dreamers Academy 2019

Mickey Mouse welcomes Yvette Cabrera and Isabel Schwartz on March 21 to Magic Kingdom in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, during the 12th annual Disney Dreamers Academy. The event, taking place March 21 to 24, 2019, at Walt Disney World Resort, is a career-inspiration program for distinguished high school students from across the U.S. (Gregg Newton, photographer)

She first applied after her mom, Cynthia Cabrera, learned about the program through Facebook. In her application, Yvette wrote to the Disney panel of judges about her goal of someday opening a dance academy in California. She found out she was accepted to the program in December and found herself for the first week of spring break learning about career opportunities and how to make a difference in others’ lives in “The Most Magical Place On Earth.”

“They wanted us to walk in one person and walk out being a completely different person,” Yvette said. “They told us so many times, ‘Dream, dream, dream. You can do whatever you want.’”

The Disney Dreamers Academy, in its 12th year, was established to encourage the next generation of dreamers to achieve their goals. Selected “Dreamers” are invited to the four-day conference, which includes motivational speaker sessions, individualized mentorship experiences called “Deep Dives” and a march through Magic Kingdom in a special Disney parade to kickoff the the weekend.

This year, high schoolers from 28 states with career interests in medicine, entertainment and law were chosen for the workshops organized in partnership with entertainer Steve Harvey and ESSENCE magazine.

This years’ event featured guests such as Harvey; Ruth Carter, costume designer for the Academy Award winning film “Black Panther"; and JD McCrary, who voices the character of Young Simba in “The Lion King” remake scheduled to show in theaters this summer.

Yvette said she was especially impressed by advice from author and motivational speaker Jonathan Sprinkles, who told the Dreamers, “You are made an original, so don’t be a copy.”

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“When I first heard that, I shook,” Yvette said. “I couldn’t stop thinking about it that day.”

Parent chaperones were also invited along to attend with their students and sit in for their own workshops — something Cynthia said left her in awe.

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“It was very uplifting and very motivating,” Cynthia said. “It was a lot to take in and Disney always outdoes themselves.”

Yvette's favorite part of the weekend, she said, was her Deep Dive experience where she and one other Disney Dreamer received their own dance lesson from the assistant choreographer for Disney World’s “Festival of the Lion King” production featuring songs from the classic Disney movie “The Lion King.”

Yvette said that cameramen from ABC’s morning talk show "Good Morning America" even showed up to help capture the one-on-one experience, and that she was invited, along with a few other Dreamers, to appear in studio on a live broadcast the next day.

“It was really cool to have that one-on-one,” Yvette said. “They really got to focus on the two of us.”

Yvette said she now plans to take her experiences over spring break back to school with her where she said she wants to forge new friendship and be open to taking different classes, such as ethnic studies. After high school, Yvette said she plans to study dance and business in college, and then work, save money and seek sponsorships to help make her dream dance academy a reality.

“Steve Harvey said ‘Don’t judge something until you try it,’” Yvette Cabrera said. “So, I’m going to definitely try new things.”

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Education Reporter

Carley Lanich covers education in Lake County and throughout the Region. She comes to Northwest Indiana from Indianapolis and is an IU-Bloomington grad.