Riding roller coasters, making kids laugh and seeing Peter Pan, Princesses Jasmine and Belle were a normal part of one Wright State student’s semester while interning at Walt Disney World in Florida.
With a little bit of pixie dust, Alissa Peppo, an international business major at Wright State, spent her semester and summer days living the dream in the Disney World college program from January to May.
Her love for Disney started sooner than it does for most children. It can be seen in a picture of a 1-year-old Peppo crawling toward a Disney movie next to her playpen with a big grin across her face.
“I have just always loved Disney,” said Peppo. “I’ve watched the movies my whole life.”
One of the first Disney movies she came to love was “Beauty and the Beast.” As a young girl she named her dog after a character in the movie, named her cat Belle and had Belle costume dresses.
She now loves “Snow White” for the classic fairytale storyline and modern adaptations, along with the “Little Mermaid.”
As an adult, Peppo continues to love Disney. “The first time I went to Disney I was a freshman in college,” she said. “It was one of the times I have been the happiest I’ve ever been.”
“The happy endings are out there,” she said. “It’s one of the things that appeals to me — the happy endings and true love. I think that Disney movies are good for kids just because of the specific situations that characters would come across and face. It’s encouraging for kids, and as an adult is still encouraging to me.”
During her internship, Peppo grew independently while making new memories every day.
“The memories were epic,” she said. “I experienced Disney in a way no one else can and that was special.”
Walt Disney World holds a daily parade showcasing its many characters including Snow White and the seven dwarfs. On the day of her 21st birthday, they noticed Peppo wearing a birthday button, and they immediately left the parade hugging her and telling her happy birthday.
“It was a big deal,” she said. “That was probably one of my best memories, because Snow White is my favorite.”
She surrounds herself with Disney books, movies and décor.
“I’m a Disney freak, I wanted to work for Disney and do the Disney college program.
With being a semester ahead, the college program was a perfect fit,” said Peppo.
Peppo also spends time working at her local library, acting in local theaters and studying business at Wright State.
“My parents joke how I have two personalities,” Peppo said. “I have my theatrical personality and I have my business personality. Because I have these two different ways of thinking, it’s good that I can turn one off and turn one on. … You can use the skills of studying and portraying a character in theater to see how a person thinks so you know how to relate to the person you’re trying to sell to, and theatrically, I am able to better relate to the seriousness of a character I am portraying on stage because I have that other businesslike personality to help me.”
With a high reading level and love for books, Peppo relates to one Disney princess.
“I’m like Belle, I love to read,” she said. “And I love working in the library and helping people find that story for someone that will make them love to read.”
Peppo imagines herself traveling and working abroad during her career. Being skilled in sales, she changed her major to international business.
“The world is just so big, I want to see all of it,” Peppo said. “I’m good at sales so I thought that international business could let me do that.”
Her time at the Disney college program prepared her for her future career working long hours and building relationships with customers on a daily basis.
One thing she learned while being at the parks is that “working for Disney isn’t just fun and games,” she said. “It’s a lot of hard work and long hours. … but it’s a lot of fun.”