Hampton University
Hampton University Wins 1st Place in Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge
12/08/2021 - #55

HAMPTON, Va. (December 8, 2021) – Hampton University wins the Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge, a design competition created and administered by The Walt Disney Company for the purpose of seeking out and nurturing the next generation of students attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU). 

“We enjoy seeing our students go above and beyond. Congratulations to these students on this outstanding accomplishment. Hampton University looks forward to seeing their continued success,” said Hampton University President, Dr. William R. Harvey. 

The Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge provides the opportunity for students at a participating HBCU to showcase their skills and talents to Disney by submitting team projects in response to the Disney project challenge. Provided with a project challenge, HBCU student teams work to deliver an original concept similar to a case. “The project design focused on an area being studied by the 3rd year design students and focused on sea level rise. The students created a Disney character, Zahara, an Egyptian princess whose mission was to inform the public about the challenges of rising seas. Their design was entitled Zahara’s Palace and served as a community gathering space,” said Chair, Department of Architecture and Competition Faculty Advisor, Robert L. Eater.

Four Hampton University Students participated in the challenge, winning $4,000 in scholarship money, a Disney Plus subscription for themselves, and a $10,000 reward to be divided between the programs of each student.

  • Abdul Cokley – Sophomore, Marketing Major
  • Alexis Golston – Senior, Management Major
  • Trajan Baker – 3rd year, Architect Student, who served as the team lead
  • Yndeiah Kilby – 3rd year, Architect Student

"I had an amazing time working with my team on the Disney on the Yard Innovation Challenge! We were able to learn so many things from one another and curate a project that reflected our skills and the magic of Disney. After winning 1st Place, I am proud to be a part of a Hampton Legacy and excited for the doors that this opportunity will open,” said Trajan Baker. “We were tasked with creating an outdoor space within our local area that addresses a community need through an innovative and sustainable approach. With an original character storyline, we presented a narrative that moved our audience of upper-level Disney judges.”

Ms. Bessie Willis, Direct of the Hampton University Career Center is the competition coordinator and served as the point of contact for the Disney Competition; she assembled the team. There were three faculty advisors for the team. Mason Andrews and Marci Turner were the instructors for the design students. Robert Easter was the competition faculty advisor to the competition team. The alumni advisor was Horace Christian, an architecture alumnus who won the Disney competition in the early 90’s and is now living in the Hampton Roads area.

About Disney On The Yard

Inclusion is at the heart of all we do at The Walt Disney Company, and we are committed to deepening our engagement and relationship with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCU)s. By partnering with HBCUs, Disney will continue to build a long-term pipeline of Black talent through the development of student internships, mentorship opportunities, career and employee spotlights, and inclusive hiring practices.

About Hampton University:

For more than 150 years Hampton University has been THE Standard of Excellence in higher education. Founded in 1868 by Brig. Gen. Samuel Chapman Armstrong, Hampton University has a long successful history of offering a strong academic program of educating the head, heart and hand,” and emphasizing the development of character.  This foundation has been built upon by Dr. William R. Harvey, who has served as Hamptons president for 44 years, during which time the university has experienced accelerated growth and achieved notable accomplishments. During Harveys presidency, 92 new programs have been introduced, 31 new structures dot the landscape of the campus surrounded three sides by water, and the universitys endowment has grown from $29 million to $400 million and growing.




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