INA, Ill. – Crossing from one stage to another – that’s just what one Rend Lake College grad has done by transforming his favorite classes and extracurriculars at RLC into an internship with hopes of big career moves in the future.
Steven Crawford is a 20-year-old RLC alumnus from Benton, who graduated in May of 2013 with two associate degrees in art and science. For the last year, he has been living and working at Walt Disney World in Florida as a Main Entrance Merchandise employee in the Animal Kingdom.
“The internship hadn’t been something I had my mind set on. A few summers ago, Cady Summers from Benton came to a rehearsal of the show I was in, and she was telling us about her experience in the Disney College Program. This is when it hit me. I really didn’t have a major decided, so I decided to do this program, hoping that it would open doors to more opportunities and maybe help me decide on a major,” said Crawford.
After applying for the program in February of 2013, Crawford said that he only waited 10 days to find out he was accepted. He added it was his time on stage at RLC that helped him prepare for his current employment.
“I was in two plays and a musical while at RLC. At Disney, when you are working, you are on stage, so having the opportunity to be on stage before has helped me the most,” said Crawford. “I’m so grateful to be doing this in Disney World. It has already been a life-changing experience.”
The Benton Community High School graduate said it was an acting course and a speech course that best prepared him in the classroom for his day-to-day duties in Florida.
“The acting class gave me the opportunity to be on stage, and any chance you get to perform helps you become more comfortable in front of an audience,” said Crawford. “Then the speech class was another chance to perform and get practice. Everyone thinks, ‘I’ll never use this,’ but let’s be honest – in most jobs, you will speak to people and it will somehow involve the public.”
After two years of study at RLC, Crawford went from a student walking across the stage in Waugh Gymnasium to get his diploma to the warm and welcoming entrance at Walt Disney World – in just one day.
“The day I graduated from RLC, May 18, I left Ina and headed to Florida, so RLC was where I last stepped foot in Southern Illinois,” he said. Crawford added that he has not ruled out the possibility of returning to school if he finds the right field. “If not, I will continue to network my way up at Disney. I’m hoping Disney opens some doors to new opportunities,” he said.
Crawford said it was his unpreparedness to attend a university and leave his family and friends that urged him to enroll at RLC.
“I didn’t feel like I was ready to move to a university level yet, and I didn’t have a major, so I saw no point. Plus, I see no point in going to a university where I’m getting the same classes but paying so much more,” he said. “It’s much closer to home and I get to be with my friends and family. It was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.”