Making dreams come true was just one part of Kent Stein’s job at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, FL. As an entertainment cast member at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge in Disney’s Hollywood Studios theme park, Kent, 23, also had a big dream of his own outside of work – earning a bachelor’s degree. Through Disney Aspire, Kent enrolled in UF Online’s Employer Pathways Program to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration.
This employer-paid pathway to a UF degree allowed Kent to complete all his coursework remotely while working for Disney. As a student in the Business Administration program, taught by on-campus faculty at UF’s Warrington College of Business, Kent was able to fulfill both his dreams as a Disney cast member and UF student.
A PASSION FOR FULFILLING DREAMS
As a kid, Kent had always wanted to go to the University of Florida. Being a big sports fan, Kent recalls the days of having his childhood bedroom decorated with plenty of orange and blue as he rooted for Gator greats like Tim Tebow. Once he landed a job at Disney, his professional career took off and his plans to become a UF student suddenly seemed out of reach.
Living in Orlando, Kent attended a local community college to start earning undergraduate credits. As luck would have it, around the time he had gained enough credits to transfer to a university to earn a bachelor’s degree, The Walt Disney Company unveiled a new program, Disney Aspire. The Disney Aspire program empowers eligible Disney employees to pursue their educational dreams at select in-network universities, with 100% tuition paid upfront. Kent immediately looked into the employer education program in search of a university that offered a high-quality education in business administration.
When he spotted UF Online on the list, he applied and didn’t look back. Kent was accepted, making his childhood dreams of being a Gator come true.
KENT’S UF ONLINE EXPERIENCE
Before enrolling in UF Online, Kent had some experience with online courses through his college classes. He wasn’t sure what to expect with UF Online’s courses, but he was blown away by the quality of each course. Taking classes online even allowed Kent to get his schoolwork done during his breaks.
Another noteworthy part of Kent’s experience at UF Online were his professors. Sometimes Kent’s work schedule became very busy, and he would struggle to find time to meet certain due dates. In these scenarios, Kent made sure to communicate his scheduling conflicts with his professors, and they were flexible and understanding of his situation. Their academic expertise and direct support of his circumstances allowed Kent to have a great experience pursuing his studies while balancing the demands of his job, both highly important areas of his life.
“My experience through UF Online was amazing. I actually prefer online learning over in-person learning,” Kent mentioned. “I’ve done both on-campus and online, and online makes more sense to me.”
GRADUATING AS A GATOR THROUGH DISNEY ASPIRE
Now that Kent is both a Gator and Disney Aspire graduate, he encourages other employees who work for companies that offer to invest in their education to go for it. “There are a lot of [employees] who weren’t going to school because they couldn’t afford it. Now they can go on to do that with programs like Disney Aspire,” Kent said.
After earning his business administration degree, Kent was inspired to shift careers and focus on a newfound passion for finance. Kent accepted a position working at Charles Schwab’s Financial Consultant Academy, where he will use the skills and knowledge he gained from his business classes. While Kent looks back fondly on his time working at the most magical place on earth, he credits Disney Aspire and UF Online for supporting his educational goals, which have helped him take this next step in his career.
Kent encourages those who are nervous about pursuing a bachelor’s degree online to take that leap. With UF Online, students are in control of how they learn by pausing, fast-forwarding, or rewinding lectures so that they can learn on their terms.
“A lot of people are afraid of online learning because they think it’s super confusing or that they won’t understand it because they’ve been out of school too long.” Kent asserts, “To me, you can learn better since you are able to rewind and pause lectures.”
We congratulate Kent on this huge accomplishment and for being one of the first two students to graduate through this amazing employer-paid partnership. Learn more about UF Online’s Employer Pathways Program here.
EARN A UF DEGREE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION
As the #1 Best Online Bachelor’s in Business, according to U.S. News & World Report 2021, the University of Florida’s business in administration degree prepares students for the growing business world. With the option to earn either a Bachelor of Science (BSBA) or Bachelor of Arts (BABA) in Business Administration, UF students can earn a nationally-ranked degree at an affordable cost. Courses taught by faculty from the Warrington College of Business prepare students for career paths in finance, marketing, human resources, and more. UF Online students can also minor in business administration while pursuing other majors. For more information about the business administration major, visit the UF Online degree page or register for one of our upcoming virtual information sessions.