Walt Disney World Cook Works Toward Dream Career Through Disney Aspire Program

Disney Aspire is a program that offers hourly Cast Members opportunities to participate in certification and degree programs that are 100% paid for by Disney in an effort to help them further their career and achieve their dreams. Disney Parks Blogs showcased one of the latest Cast Members in the program, Jamal Ward. Jamal is a cook at The Wave… of American Flavors, which is located at Disney’s Contemporary Resort. He has gone back to school to pursue a law enforcement career. We have more about his amazing story below!


Jamal grew up in the U.S. Virgin Islands, Jamal developed a passion for cooking when he spent time cooking and baking with his mom. “She passed on her love of food and cooking to me,” said Jamal.

Jamal says that the best part about being a cook is, “getting to make different dishes and working directly with the chefs as the menu changes. I love how the chefs treat me as a student and help me to grow in my career. They are always willing to share everything they know and help me get better.”

Jamal had his first child at a young age and didn’t finish high school so that he could start working to provide for his family. “At that point, I felt that working and earning money was more important than pursuing my education. I attempted to go back to school in 2007 before working at Disney, but I didn’t have the support I needed to be successful. After joining Disney, I not only found the Disney Aspire program, but the support I needed from my leaders to be successful in earning my education.” 

Jamal wasn’t sure at first if he would be able to juggle school, work, family, etc. “However, with everything paid up front by Disney, I had every reason to do this, and do it now,” he explained.  

He enrolled in Disney Aspire’s High School Completion Program after his younger brother convinced him to enroll. He was set to graduate in 2020 with his GED, but worked extremely hard and was able to graduate the program in only four months!

Jamal Ward with Catherine Powell President of Disney Parks, Western Region during a visit to commemorate his successful GED completion through Disney Aspire.
Pictured above: Jamal Ward with Catherine Powell President of Disney Parks, Western Region during a visit to commemorate his successful GED completion through Disney Aspire.

Jamal didn’t stop there, either! Through Disney Aspire, he is now enrolled at Valencia College where he is actively pursuing a career in law enforcement. He is hoping that his journey inspires his children, “If I can go back at my age and do it, they definitely can.” 

Congrats to Jamal for his amazing accomplishments and we wish him the best of luck throughout his program!

Photo and Source Credit: Disney Parks Blog

About the Author: Christy Caby – Personal Vacation Advisor with Magical Vacation Planner. For vacation quotes and free planning assistance visit: I’ve planned a wide variety of trips for families including varying sizes, celebrations and more! I have stayed in all resort categories and can help you make the best resort selection for your family’s interests and needs.  I would love to assist you in planning your own magical vacation that you can share with your loved ones! Find me on Facebook at Also, check out my bio below!


About Christy Caby

I am a diehard Disney fanatic! I fell in love with all things Disney from an early age and that only increased once I first visited Walt Disney World! It led me to complete a yearlong Disney College Program working at merchandise locations within Disney’s Hollywood Studios (Disney-MGM Studios at that time) and I worked for Disney Parks & Resorts Technology in Project/Program Management. Now I get to write about Disney and help others plan their magical vacations! Disney holds a special place in the hearts of my entire family as my husband proposed there, we honeymooned there, took trips while pregnant with each of my boys and have visited with them many, many times from 8 weeks old through now. One of my favorite memories from each trip is always the look on my kids’ faces the first time they see the castle. I’d love to help you plan your magical vacation! Request a free quote at or look for me on Facebook at Have a magical day!