“If you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true,” is a line from the classic Disney movie, “Cinderella”. For about 100 years, The Walt Disney Company has provided opportunities for students to further their education.

Natalie Finlayson, a junior studying communication, had always dreamed of interning for Disney.

Finlayson found a way to make her dream come true. The 21-year-old received an opportunity to work for Disney and fulfill her childhood fantasy.

Growing up, the Finlayson family made regular trips from Utah to Disneyland in California. Natalie’s love for Disney stemmed from her childhood and grew as her family made memories in the theme park.

Mickey Mouse sits on Natalie Finlayson's bed as a reminder of her experiences last semester.

Mickey Mouse sits on Natalie Finlayson's bed as a reminder of her experiences last semester. Photo credit: Kimber Pearce

As she grew in her teenage years so did her obsession. She spent long hours watching YouTube videos and vlogs of Disney content.

Finlayson learned about the Disney College Program through social media.

“I thought it was a great opportunity to go and just explore and try something different,” Finlayson said.

”As a teenager, I felt like it was beckoning to me,” Finlayson said. “How could I pass it up? Such an awesome opportunity and then once I got into college, there were lots of different priorities, and things got skewed.”

Burnout hits everyone differently, and for Finlayson came a new desire to find something different. Like her favorite Disney princess, Belle, Natalie wanted “adventure in the great wide somewhere.”

“I took the jump and applied,” Finlayson said, “and I got accepted and decided to go that fall.”

Natalie immediately knew the Fall 2023 Semester was the ideal time to fulfill her goal.

Finlayson set out for Walt Disney World in Florida, where she would spend five months in the Disney College Program.

“It just seemed like a dream come true in many ways,” Natalie said.

She experienced quite a culture shock upon arrival. She struggled at first to acclimate herself to the differences in the community and local culture.

“I felt quite alone for a while,” Natalie said.

But as she grew accustomed to the changes, Natalie found that she enjoyed experiencing new lifestyles.

Natalie loved meeting the many people from around the world who came to visit the Disney park. Working 40 hours a week in the gift shop and spending time exploring the park during her off-hours, she met many interesting people.

“It has definitely opened my eyes to people who live different lifestyles from us as members of the Church,” Natalie said.

Finlayson loved her experience at Walt Disney World, and she loved the things she learned.

“I had my own expectations of what it would be, and I walked out with totally different things,” Finlayson said.

The biggest thing she learned was that if something is important to you, make it happen. If you have a dream, follow it and believe and work hard to make it come true.

“You paint your own picture. So paint the picture you want to see,” Finlayson said.