Lauren’s unfolding story arrives at Disney World – Lauren Stein won a Hecht, attends Whitewater | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Lauren’s unfolding story arrives at Disney World – Lauren Stein won a Hecht, attends Whitewater

We last told you about Lauren Stein to celebrate that she earned a $5,000 scholarship from the Hecht Family Memorial College Scholarship Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Milwaukee Jewish Federation. 

Therapists, tutors and more to assist with Lauren’s Asperger syndrome can get expensive, but help came along for Lauren’s family, in the form of that scholarship, and also in the form of supportive initiatives at her college, University of Wisconsin – Whitewater.  

Back in 2020, we told you that Lauren lived in a Ukrainian orphanage for the first three years of her life. She grew up in Glendale, in the home where parents Marty and Pam Stein still live. 

Lauren takes standard college classes. She chats with professors in the halls, goes bowling with friends and likes to study in the library, to get out of her dorm room. The school’s Center for Students with Disabilities connects Lauren with tutors (for a fee) and at no charge arranges note-takers, extended testing times and quiet testing space. 

Now, Lauren has completed her latest adventure, internship at Walt Disney World, Jan. 18-July 28, 2022. At Disney, she helped visitors as a “cast member” and hosted fellow interns in her Disney-provided apartment for Passover. She even found where a friend hid the matzo! (It was in a closet.) 

Lauren had her own room in a just-built Disney apartment suite, “Flamingo Crossings Village,” with roommates from Puerto Rico, Canada, New Jersey and Texas.  

“I liked them a lot. They’re very friendly and helpful and nice to hang out with them,” Lauren said.  

Lauren’s internship 

The Disney College Program in Florida is not a program specifically for students with disabilities, it’s just what Lauren applied for and was accepted to.  

“You’re ‘cast members,’ because you’re part of the show,” said Lauren, who was required to take some Disney classes. “It’s not just going into work at a theme park. It’s an immersive experience.” 

Lauren worked in the Magic Kingdom and Hollywood Studios. She stocked, worked the cash register, worked in a pop-up Star Wars store, rented out wheelchairs and strollers at “Oscar’s,” and staffed a cart on a Disney street.  Staffing the cart came later in her internship, a higher level of responsibility because she was on her own.  

“It was easy, easy tasks,” said the college junior.  

During the internship, there were some terrible storms and her store became a refuge for guests. “Sometimes the flood water will get in the store,” she recalled. “They were running in to get away from the rain.” 

Then, came time to clean it up. 

When it came time for Passover, Lauren got on the phone with her mother back in Wisconsin for advice. “I had chicken, potatoes, broccoli, matzah, gefilte fish, charoset and chocolate,” Lauren said.  

“I liked working there and it was great,” Lauren said. “I liked working away from home and that and going to the parks a lot of my days off.” 

Visit this story online for a direct link to the Disney College Program