LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL – When Juliana Telles stepped off the bus with her classmates onto the Walt Disney World Resorts ESPN World Wide of Sports grounds, she couldn’t help but think about the future.

“We are becoming adults and starting the next chapter of our lives,” she said.

For Tellez, the next chapter involves going to college. She and thousands of other students took steps toward that goal by attending HBCU Week a college fair held for the first time at Disney World.

This is a college fair where students get much more than just information about their chosen school.

“You could literally get a scholarship on the spot,” said Samantha Salcedo, a senior.

“I’m the first in my family to go to college,” senior Kemani Thompson said. “My parents didn’t go … so I would be first generation.”

Approximately 7,000 students attended the college fair, filling the booths of more than 40 historically black colleges and universities, which sent representatives to College Fair HBCU Week.

The University of Delaware was among the schools that offered on-site scholarships.

Keith Foreman got one of them.

“It’s amazing,” he said after receiving the full scholarship. “Thank you guys so much. Oh my god!”

Just an hour into the HBCU fair, Livingston College had already awarded six full scholarships.

With all the students, schools and celebrations, the scene was almost overwhelming for the woman who founded HBCU Week in 2017 in Wilmington, Delaware.

“This is something we couldn’t have dreamed of or asked for,” said HBCU Week founder/CEO Ashley Christopher. – It’s unbelievable.

Christopher has watched HBCU Week grow from 700 students to now participating in Disney on the Yard, which is a program designed to truly engage with HBCU communities.

“Bringing this college fair to the Walt Disney Resort, I have no words other than to say that my heart is full and we are changing lives,” said Avis Lewis, Vice President of Human Resources, The Walt Disney Company.

The desire to spread the culture and appreciation of HBCU’S is also why ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith started supporting HBCU Week years ago. He is now a brand ambassador, bringing his show “First Take” first to the original HBCU Week and now to Disney World Resorts, where the show aired on Friday.

“This will open the door to higher education for many people who may not have thought they would ever have the opportunity,” Smith said.

The most emotional moment of the day came on the main stage of the College Fair when senior Jahnel Reid was presented with a check for $50,000 from Disney on the Yard and another $25,000 from Bethune-Cookman College. She broke down in tears, overwhelmed that her college dreams had come true.

“All I can do is thank God,” she said. “I come from a disadvantaged family…I can go to college debt-free.”

Christopher is excited to see her work to establish HBCU Week continue in such a strong way through the partnership with Disney, helping even more college dreams come true.

“We’re in Disney World,” she said. “We make magic here.”

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