Gaining experience around the globe: Students study abroad and intern with Disney

Written by: 
Hailey Gardiner~Multimedia Journalist
internship, byuh, BYU-Hawaii, hawaii, kealakai, ke alakai

Study abroad opportunities are available for students seeking adventure, a change of scenery, or a challenge. Students agreed that spending a semester doing an internship or studying abroad can be a memorable and life-changing experience.

BYU Jerusalem Center:

According to the official Website, students enrolled in the program “travel to the Holy Land, and live in the center.
Students study a core curriculum that focuses on Old and New Testament, ancient and modern Near Eastern studies, and language (Hebrew and Arabic).” The majority of the course work centers around field trips throughout the Holy Land.

Elder Garr, one of BYUH’s CES missionaries and a religion professor from Utah, taught at the Jerusalem Center 16 years ago. “It’s great because the students get to see over 100 different Old and New Testament sights. There’s something to be said about the spirit of the place,” said Elder Garr. He explained how the center houses 160 students, making for a tight-knit group of classmates, ward members, and friends.

“It was the best teaching experience I have ever had,” Elder Garr said. “I’ve tried to describe why, and it’s just because I got to know my students better than any students I’ve ever known. I lived at the center, you attend church there, you have a class with them every day, and then you go on week-long field trips together.”

Denise Burnett, a senior majoring in peacebuilding from Washington, said of her experience in Jerusalem, “I never could have fathomed how amazing and life changing it was.”

Burnett said the most memorable part of her experience was spending time on the beaches of Galilee. “I know why he loves those shores so much. Not only did I get to learn so much about my Savior during that time, but also got to spend 10 days with 80 of my favorite people and families just having fun together.

“I wish everyone could go there because you too will find out why Christ loved this area so much,” she added.

Burnett encouraged any students with a desire to go to not let anything get in their way. “If you have a desire to go, make it happen. I have never met anyone who has ever regretted going, and I know I would go in a heartbeat if I had the option to again,”


Mary Garbett, a senior majoring in anthropology with a minor in Spanish from Utah, spent a semester in Spain after hearing about her sister’s experience living abroad and discovering BYU Provo’s international study abroad program.

Garbett said the highlights of her experience included “the delicious food, living with a Spanish family whom I got to converse with on a daily basis, traveling throughout Spain and seeing amazing architecture and the beautiful landscapes.”

Garbett recommended taking a look at the BYU International Study Program Website, which is connected to the Kennedy Center. Students should research the requirements and the deadlines well in advance to apply. “Overall it’s an amazing experience where you have the opportunity to grow and learn so much,” Garbett added.

Abigail Brammer, a senior majoring in English from New York, is planning on teaching abroad after graduating this April. “Many programs are available to anyone with a bachelor’s degree,” said Brammer. “I’m looking to fill a teaching position in which I would teach English to students who could either be children or adults.

Brammer said she is ready to learn about a new culture by being immersed in it. “I would love to expand my knowledge of a new language and have the chance to practice it every day. I am also looking forward to teaching and gaining some hands-on experience in the career I want to pursue.”

Offering advice for students looking for similar opportunities, Brammer said, “Make sure that you leave yourself enough time to gather all of your materials before the deadlines pop up.”

Disney Internship:

Miguel Medina, a senior majoring in HTM from Honduras, discovered his internship on campus when he saw flyers posted by campus representatives.
Medina spent a semester working as a bell captain at The Grand Floridian Resort & Spa at Disney World and was in charge of supervising and managing his fellow bell service cast members.

“I loved the fact that I was always in contact with the guests on the phone or at the lobby, answering all types of questions about The Walt Disney World Resort or responding to service requests,” said Medina.

Medina would recommend the experience to students interested in developing customer service skills. “It all depends on your attitude. I went with the idea and the goal of becoming a better professional no matter what it took, and I really feel that my goal was accomplished.”

Keryna Monson, a senior majoring in psychology from Texas, also worked at Disney World as an attractions cast member at the Winnie the Pooh ride and the Mad Hatter Tea Cups.

Monson noted the recruiters on campus misled her in a few areas, including the fact that LDS and BYU students are no longer housed together. “They don’t really work to give LDS students Sundays off, so it was really hard for me not to be able to attend church often,” said Monson.

Despite the difficulties she encountered, Monson said, “I loved being able to make magic every day for guests, learning new things, and getting to meet folks from all around the world who came to the states just to come to Disney. I met so many families who had been saving for years just to come.”

Monson’s most memorable experiences came from working closely with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which provides terminally ill patients opportunities to fulfill their dreams. “Being able to see and interact with these families was truly touching,” she said.

For students interested in becoming cast members at one of the Disney Parks, applications are currently open. Contact Miguel Medina, the Disney Campus representative this semester, with any questions.