Kennesaw State student will use technology to create magic during Disney internship
KENNESAW, Ga. (May 3, 2022) — April Breedlove’s passion for computers and coding, combined with her fierce perseverance, has earned her a prestigious internship at Disney World this summer.
Breedlove, a junior computer science major in the College of Computing and Software Engineering (CCSE), will live in Orlando for three months and work as a software engineering intern with Walt Disney Attractions Technology.
“I’m going to be living out my dream,” said Breedlove, who transferred to Kennesaw State this fall after graduating high school early. An experience in Disney World three years ago shaped that dream and changed the trajectory of her life.
In 2019, Breedlove was one of 100 high school students nationwide accepted into the exclusive Disney Dreamers Academy (DDA). The four-day, all-expenses-paid trip introduces students from underrepresented communities to all the opportunities Disney provides through career workshops and mentoring sessions.
“I thought there was no way I would get in,” Breedlove said, after her first application was denied. “But growing up, my mom always said, ‘Never let fear stop you from doing what you want, because you don’t know what you could be missing.’ I’m so glad I followed that advice and applied again.”
At DDA, Breedlove joined the technology Deep Dive, a personalized small group based on participants’ career interests, where she worked on Disney’s Magic Bands. The waterproof wristbands allow guests to unlock their hotel room, enter theme parks, pay for food and much more by tapping the band to a touch point sensor.
“Prior to my experience in the Disney Dreamers Academy, I didn’t know that Disney needed software engineers,” she added. “I left that Deep Dive knowing I wanted to return.”
Two years after DDA, Breedlove was rushing to class on Kennesaw State’s Marietta campus when she saw a booth set up for the student organization Girls Who Code. Students at the booth said they were hosting a career fair and a recruiter from Disney was going to be there. Breedlove attended the career fair and eagerly put together her Disney Professional Internship application. A few weeks later, she received a call from a recruiter.
“She told me they wanted me to join the team as a software engineering intern and I started crying,” Breedlove recalls. “This has been my dream since high school, but little did I know there would be more.”
As she wrapped her mind around starting her dream internship, Breedlove was surprised to get an email from DDA staff asking her to return to the Academy and mentor the newest group of high school students.
“I wanted to have an individual impact on every student in my group,” Breedlove said after she returned to campus. “I really focused on making those connections, because connections at DDA and KSU are what helped get me to this point.”
When she returns to Orlando this summer, she will intern with the same team that inspired her three years ago.
“That Deep Dive in high school sparked everything for me,” she said. “One of the speakers called it a ‘destiny moment’ where you realize what you want to do and what you want to be. I’m looking forward to more of those moments this summer.”
– Abbey O’Brien Barrows
Photos by Judy Pishnery
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A leader in innovative teaching and learning, Kennesaw State University offers undergraduate, graduate and doctoral degrees to its nearly 43,000 students. With 11 colleges on two metro Atlanta campuses, Kennesaw State is a member of the University System of Georgia. The university’s vibrant campus culture, diverse population, strong global ties and entrepreneurial spirit draw students from throughout the country and the world. Kennesaw State is a Carnegie-designated doctoral research institution (R2), placing it among an elite group of only 6 percent of U.S. colleges and universities with an R1 or R2 status. For more information, visit kennesaw.edu.