Florida A&M University’s j-school welcomed special guests from Walt Disney and ESPN on Wednesday as part of the homecoming week “Grads are Back” event.
The panelists spoke about their careers post-graduation. The event, “Creating Magic for the Culture,” was inspired by Disney’s “On the Yard” initiative, which aims to amplify the company’s efforts toward HBCU awareness and recruitment.
Students in attendance were able to listen and engage with four different graduates from HBCUs who have important roles within the Walt Disney enterprise.
The panel consisted of Dayna Lee, manager of HBCU outreach and engagement for Disney, Kennedy Maddox, outreach coordinator who just recently graduated, Lajoy Mercer, head of campus recruitment and Luke Williams, a producer for ESPN+ and one of the biggest hands in the “Why Not Us: FAMU Football” docuseries.
Each panelist gave informative and powerful words of advice for students interested in working for ESPN or media in general. They were also able to give insight about working within the Disney corporation and how their HBCU experience prepared them.
“Being an HBCU graduate myself, this was a passion project for me anyway,” Lee said when talking about her position. “I have the takeover spirit, so I was going to do this anyway whether I was given a formal position or not. I used to call myself the ‘underground railroad,’ informing interested colleagues from FAMU of positions that were available while also giving resumes or putting in a good word with those in charge of those fields.”
“In my 15 years of work, this is the most rewarding and valuable,” Lee added.
Mercer followed up with what she looks for in potential interns and how important it is to have your resume reflect what you say in an interview.
“The first thing is that whatever role you are interested in, make sure your resume is in alignment with those different buzz words and phrases that are utilized within that field,” Mercer said. “I will also say, we are definitely looking for FAMU students. This is one of the focal HBCUs to target for Disney, as HBCU recruitment is a big part of our process. I would tell aspiring students as well to never doubt yourself, if you’re interested in a position then post for it and bring the confidence along with you.”
Mylè Moody, a third-year business administration major at FAMU, spoke about what she took away from the event and what tips she took from the panel.
“I learned that I could see myself thriving with Disney after my internship once I heard their stories and how happy they were in their roles,” Moody said. “I realized that to get where I want to be, I should always make sure my peers and superiors know who I am and make genuine relationships with those around me.”