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Hunt High School sophomore Ashley Ward was chosen an official winner of the 2019 Disney Dreamers Academy Essay Contest.
Ashley was one of 100 students in the country to be chosen for the academy, which was held in Orlando from March 21-24.
“It was great. I got to meet a bunch of different people and we got to share our stories. It was nice meeting people outside of my community,” Ashley said.
To be chosen, Ashley wrote an essay detailing goals in her life.
“I wrote about how I have dreamed of being either a pediatric doctor or an anesthesiologist,” Ashley said. “I was interested in them, but after the event at Disney, I kind of learned that it’s probably not the best path for me, so I am kind of back with a clean slate trying to figure that out.”
Ashley said the students sat and talked with motivational speakers and mentors who gave them advice they can use through college and later in their lives.
“I learned that you get out what you put in,” Ashley said. “I learned that it is OK to go through different struggles and that everyone has rough points in their life and that everything will be all right in the end as long as you stay focused and put your priorities in line.”
Ashley has a grade-point average of 4.5 and is No. 1 in her class of 329 students.
“We met many celebrities like Steve Harvey, Chloe and Halle and Trevor Jackson,” Ashley said. “We met people who really inspired us. So I think it is something that everyone should at least try to do once in their life just to get a perspective of different stories from different people and things like that.”
Ashley said she made many new friends among students from around the country during the trip.
“We are all in one big group chat, 100 of us, and we have been talking nonstop since then,” Ashley said. “I met two really good friends and I hope to continue a relationship with both of them.”
Ashley is the daughter of Ray and Rosalind Ward of Wilson.
“Because my passion is dance, I am the choreographer for all the chorus performance productions, as well as teach dance to youth ages 3 through 10 years of age,” Ashley said. “My motto for life is to be kind and have courage.”
Ashley thanked Disney and Steve Harvey for putting the Dreamers Academy together.
“It was really an amazing event,” Ashley said. “At first, I thought that it was going to be something really low-key, but everything was extravagant.”