Moraine Valley Community College employees may be tempted to wear Mickey Mouse ears around campus, a gift for becoming a distinguished Disney College Program institution.

For more than 10 years, the college has partnered with the Disney College Program, sending a number of students to internships at Disney World in Florida or Disneyland in California. Within the last year alone, a hefty number of applications for the program fueled this honor.

“We selected certain colleges and universities across the country for this recognition, which was driven based on the number of applications received from Moraine Valley students over the past year. The metrics clearly showcase to us the incredible support we have from Moraine Valley and peers. Thanks to this terrific partnership, interest in the Disney College Program among Moraine Valley students continues to be high,” said Jeff Hickman, manager of Disney Campus Recruitment.

Marie Harrell, Moraine Valley internship manager, has worked with the program for the last eight years. She talks with students interested in securing a Disney internship, helps them apply and meets with them three times before they leave. The internships last up to eight months.

“Our students are prepared when they participate in the program, and there is a successful completion rate among those who have participated,” Harrell said. “Earning this distinction means that the partnership Moraine Valley has built continues to grow in a positive manner. It also shows the commitment the college has to ensuring that experiential learning takes place with one of the most recognized companies that teaches students confidence, leadership and customer service at the highest level.”

When Harrell started at the college, she visited Disney each semester to see firsthand how the program worked, sat in classes, spoke to the recruitment, housing and educational staff, and visited the housing complexes as well as the students at their worksites. Not only was she able to build a relationship with the Disney program staff, but she was better informed on the program when students had questions. Over the years she has worked with students who applied multiple times for the program and experienced their excitement at finally being accepted. But she has seen the real benefit once they return from their stint.

“The real joy is seeing them leave as a shy student without confidence but return ready to give presentations about their experience, be a leader in their group and be promoted at their place of employment,” Harrell said. “This recognition shows that my efforts to continue to promote the program are well worth it.”