HBCU Spotlight: Sherrell Wilson, Recruiter, Disney College and International Program
In his nearly 14 years with The Walt Disney Company, Grambling State University alumnus Sherrell Wilson has come full circle. He joined Disney as a College Program participant and now has the pleasure of recruiting students worldwide.
Sherrell lives and breathes Grambling, and if you get a chance to meet or speak with him, he’ll enthusiastically find a way to weave Grambling into the conversation. He’s a Tiger through and through, and so are his parents and brother. He has a long history of Grambling Tiger pride.
Learn more about Sherrell, his love for Grambling, and his work leading the outreach and engagement workstream for Disney’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) task force.
What is your role, specific title, and how would you describe what you do to a friend or family member?
I’m a recruiter, and I support arrivals for Disney’s College and International Programs team. When students accept an offer to be a part of the program, the rest of the team and I take over. This includes getting the interns their itinerary, bringing them here, getting them through their background checks, and getting them to Traditions, our company’s orientation. Once they’ve accepted our offer, our team serves as the welcoming committee.”
How many years have you been with The Walt Disney Company?
14 years – Sherrell has been in his current role for a year and a half. Prior to this, he was a logistics manager at ESPN Wide World of Sports.“I started my career in a College Program and participated on a management internship in custodial. I stayed after my internship ended, and from there, I worked my way through Park Operations. I spent time at Disney’s Animal Kingdom and Magic Kingdom, serving on the opening team for the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train attraction. I then moved over to ESPN Wide World of Sports in 2015 and got a chance to do the NFL Pro Bowl, Invictus Games, and a couple of other cool events as well.”
Why did you choose to pursue a career with Disney?
When I was on my College Program, I had a chance to meet a gentleman within the company that later became my mentor. He encouraged me, which is why I came back to do a management internship. He encouraged me to do a management internship. Once I was hired full-time to stay with Disney, he continued to mentor me, and I continued to meet with him.
It’s almost like you have the responsibility to pay it forward to these students. I personally feel like it is my responsibility to do that, especially for students who attend HBCUs, to let them know that Disney has a wealth of opportunities for individuals who’ve attended HBCUs and enjoy working here. And for students in general, there are many of things that I wish I knew when I was in college that I know now. I feel like I can use my role at Disney supporting our College and International Programs to provide those students with those tips and things that they should be doing now to prepare for future opportunities.”
How have you supported Disney’s effort to strengthen its relationship with HBCUs?
I’m a member of the HBCU task force, and I assist with outreach and engagement offerings, such as hosting virtual events for students to showcase Disney and opportunities within the company. I also assisted in the development of an enterprise-wide Disney on the Yard mentorship Program and Summer College Program offerings for HBCU students. From a Disney College Program perspective, we have a diversity and inclusion strategy focused on HBCUs, and our goal is to attract Black and African American students to participate on our Disney College Program.”
Describe a time when you felt a sense of belonging, personally or professionally.
I would say a sense of belonging for me is knowing my perspective is appreciated and accepted. I’ve been in meetings before, and I may have been a little timid about speaking out because I was the only Black person on the call. I would ask myself, ‘would people understand what I am trying to say, and will they understand my perspective when I speak.’ Now when I am in meetings, my co-workers know and understand that everyone’s perspectives matter. The willingness to have those uncomfortable conversations that we may not have had before, encouraging people to share their perspectives while talking about diversity and inclusion, and to share their perspectives is great. When we have team meetings, we often talk about the Reimagine Tomorrow Conversation Series events. I can’t tell you how much these events have opened the dialogue. People feel like they can talk about diversity, equity and inclusion because the company is making it a focus.”
Learn more about Disney on the Yard and how they are dedicated to building a community for HBCU alumni working across The Walt Disney Company and providing meaningful opportunities for students.
by Bethany C, Communications Specialist