Fueled by a passion for people and the desire to broaden her horizons, Smile and Disney were a perfect match.

Q. What brought you to UCR University Extension?

A: Enrolling in the UCR Disney Academic Exchange Program was driven by my passion for Human Resource Management, love for people, and a deep-seated desire for international experiences. When I first heard about the UCR University Extension's Applied Management for Hospitality and Tourism program, the opportunity to earn a professional certificate from UCR, followed by Disney International Program; it was an immediate and exciting realization that aligned perfectly with my interests.

The prospect of combining my academic pursuits in Human Resource Management with practical, hands-on experience through the Disney Internship was a unique and enriching opportunity. The UCR program, known for its excellence in hospitality and tourism management, offered a structured and comprehensive curriculum that I believed would not only enhance my understanding of the industry but also provide a valuable skill set applicable to my future career in Human Resource Management.

The allure of experiencing diverse cultures, coupled with the chance to learn and work in the renowned Disney environment, solidified my decision to pursue this academic and professional journey. The prospect of earning a professional certificate from UCR further validated the program's credibility and the potential for significant personal and professional growth.

In essence, my journey to UCR University Extension was a convergence of my academic interests, love for people, and the excitement of exploring the world through the lens of hospitality and tourism – a decision that has proven to be both personally fulfilling and career-enriching.

Q. What were some of the unexpected hurdles in your journey?

A: During the study abroad semester at UCR University Extension, adjusting to a new academic and cultural setting presented some challenges that required an increased level of adaptability. As I was the only student from my home university, I felt isolated at times. And my academic training as a Disney Intern involved navigating the complexities of the hospitality and tourism sector that called for quick problem-solving and adaptability. Overcoming these hurdles became opportunities for personal and professional growth, reinforcing the importance of versatility and intercultural competence to navigate the dynamic field of hospitality and tourism.

Q. What were some of the unexpected benefits?

A: The study abroad semester of the Disney Academic Exchange Program not only provided me with an invaluable global perspective but also exposed me to diverse cultures, expanding my worldview within the hospitality and tourism industry. Engaging in the Applied Management for Hospitality and Tourism program brought unforeseen advantages, particularly in the form of a comprehensive professional network.

Smile Kaur standing in front of the magic castle at Disneyworld Interactions with industry experts and fellow students created lasting connections that have proven beneficial for my career growth. The academic training as a Disney Intern offered unexpected hands-on experience, allowing me to enhance practical skills and immediately apply theoretical knowledge in a renowned corporate setting. Beyond professional development, these experiences unexpectedly nurtured my cultural intelligence, instilling in me a global mindset that continues to positively influence both my personal and professional life.

Q. Where did you think this journey would lead you?

A: The decision to apply to this program was a spontaneous one! Looking back now, it has unfolded into one of the best decisions of my life. Initially, my expectations were limited, but the experience turned out to be transformative. Being part of a diverse class with students from various cultural backgrounds, working for a Fortune 100 company, and making friends worldwide exceeded my initial hopes.

This journey has been instrumental in shaping my perspective, and I've successfully integrated these experiences into my studies in Human Resource Management. It's a testament to the unexpected and incredible opportunities that can arise from taking a leap into the unknown.

Q. Was there a particular department, staff member, or instructor memorable to your experience?

A: Yes, my academic journey was enriched by the impactful guidance of so many amazing people. Buket Gonzalez, my program coordinator, played a pivotal role in ensuring a seamless study abroad experience on the Disney International Program. Her support and organizational prowess greatly contributed to the success of the program.

Additionally, my Human Resource Management Instructor, Gilma Anderson, left an indelible mark on my academic experience. Her expertise and dedication not only enhanced my understanding of HRM but also inspired a deeper appreciation for the subject. Both Buket Gonzalez and Gilma Anderson played integral roles, making my educational journey memorable and impactful.

Beyond academic support, they were both instrumental in providing invaluable mental support throughout my educational journey. Their unwavering assistance and willingness to help at any point created a nurturing environment that greatly contributed to my success. Their dedication to both my academic and personal well-being showcased a remarkable commitment to fostering a positive and supportive learning experience. I am truly grateful for their guidance and mentorship, which made my time at Capilano University and UCR University Extension exceptionally meaningful.

Q. What are your aims for the future?

A: Looking ahead, my aspirations for the future align with a commitment to professional growth and contributing meaningfully to the field of human resources. Specifically, I am eager to pursue membership with the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources (CPHR) in Canada. This strategic goal stems from my academic foundation as a business undergraduate at Capilano University and the specialized knowledge gained through the Disney Academic Exchange Program, the study abroad semester on the Disney International Program, and the Applied Management for Hospitality and Tourism program.

By joining CPHR, I aim to further enhance my expertise, stay abreast of industry trends, and actively participate in shaping the landscape of human resources in Canada. This step reflects my dedication to continuous learning and professional development, laying the groundwork for a fulfilling and impactful career in human resources.

Q. In your life today, what makes you happy?

A: In my life today, numerous aspects contribute to my genuine happiness. As my name is Smile, I always try to live up to my name and maintain a consistently positive outlook on life. Learning about diverse cultures continues to be a source of joy for me, stemming from my enriching experiences during the Disney Academic Exchange Program and the study abroad semester in the Disney International Program.

The academic journey, including the Applied Management for Hospitality and Tourism program at UCR, has provided me with valuable insights into human resource management, aligning with my academic interests. Embracing opportunities for personal and professional growth, along with fostering a deep appreciation for cultural diversity, collectively contribute to a fulfilling and joyful life.

Q. What advice would you give to prospective students?

A: As an alumna of the Disney Academic Exchange Program, my advice to students considering this unique opportunity is multifaceted. Firstly, embrace the diversity that this program offers. Engaging with peers from various cultural backgrounds enhances your learning experience and broadens your worldview. Seize every opportunity that comes your way, whether it's networking with industry professionals or participating in the distinctive Disney experiences.

Second, stay open-minded throughout the journey, welcoming new ideas and perspectives. Building a strong network is invaluable, so connect with fellow students, instructors, and professionals encountered during the program. The academic training as a Disney Intern provides a chance to apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting; make the most of this experience to bridge the gap between academia and practical application.

Third, seek guidance when needed from program coordinators, instructors, and peers. Reflect on your experiences periodically and consider how they can contribute to your academic and professional goals.

Finally, remember, this program is not just about academic study; it is about personal and professional development in a dynamic and globally renowned setting.

Make the most of it!

Smile Kaur standing in front of the Disney University sign wearing business attire Smile Kaur, Business Undergraduate
Capilano University
North Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Bachelor of Business Administration Candidate, Third Year, Capilano University
Graduate, Applied Management for Hospitality and Tourism and Disney Academic Exchange Programs, UCR University Extension