A record cohort of 51 international students graduated from Rosen College’s Disney Undergraduate Program on July 16 following a six-month-long experience working and learning in the heart of the hospitality industry. Students traveled to Orlando from six partner universities, including Beijing International Studies University, Hainan University, Nankai University, Sun Yat-sen University, Kyung Hee University and Sejong University.

The students were kept very busy during the program. They lived in Disney housing and worked in two different cast member roles for 37.5 hours per week, in addition to taking four hospitality courses at Rosen College: Guest Service Management, Culture and Cuisine, Destination Marketing and Academic Internship. They were awarded a Certificate of Completion at the end of the program.

It wasn’t all work and no play, though. Students were given two days off per week and participated in a variety of extra-curricular activities, ranging from theme park visits and sporting events to out-of-town trips, skydiving and parasailing. Rosen College also hosted several social and educational activities to familiarize the students with American culture and local points of interest. For example, they were treated to an All-American BBQ and day of kayaking at Lake Claire on UCF’s main campus as well as tours of the Orange County Convention Center and an eclectic, local hotel. In addition, they participated in Rosen College’s first Women’s Hospitality & Tourism Leadership Forum on March 20 where they met and learned from hospitality industry leaders.

“This program is a good opportunity to make friends with people from all over the world, to embrace diversity and to know that the world is more colorful than you thought,” said Yuxi Yao, a junior at Sun Yat-sen University.

On July 16, the students were honored at a special graduation ceremony where they received their certificates and enjoyed a buffet lunch with college administration and faculty. Several students addressed the audience during the ceremony, touching on similar themes like the confidence they gained while participating in the program, assurance in their career choice after working in the industry and the many new friends they made from around the world.

“This program was truly all I could have asked for during college,” said Haerim Lee, a junior at Kyung Hee University. “It changed my life, thinking and the future. I thank [Rosen College and Disney] for giving me such an amazing opportunity to experience the world.”

After the program, these students returned to their home countries with new knowledge of industry trends, experience living in a different country and valuable work experience with a leading, global hospitality brand. Most students plan to continue their education either at home or in other foreign countries while others plan to join their families in already established hospitality businesses or return to the United States to work. Several students expressed interest in growing the tourism industry in their countries or working for Disney in Hong Kong or Shanghai.

“Thanks to this program, I improved so much, learned a lot about real hospitality and culture, and met so many good people,” said Mirae Choi, sophomore at Kyung Hee University. “I will have this meaningful and precious experience in Orlando as my first step to my dream.”

Students from Rosen College’s six partner universities may apply for the Disney Undergraduate Program starting in August through their respective coordinators. Admission is selective – a minimum GPA of 3.0, minimum TOEFL score of 80 or IELTS score of 6.5 are required and students must conduct a Skype interview with Rosen College as well as an in-person interview with a Walt Disney World recruiter. For more information, please contact Ms. Sheryl Goins, program coordinator, at Sheryl.Goins@ucf.edu or Dr. Youcheng Wang, associate dean of academic affairs & research, at Youcheng.Wang@ucf.edu.

Learn more about the Disney Undergraduate Program at Rosen College.