Ryan Sichelstiel is currently finishing up his semester with the Disney College Program. Once he began pursuing his passions there was no stopping him! Read more about Ryan and why he is our #MCM below.
1. What's your story? What makes you unique?
I always liked to draw, paint and create, but I was hesitant to make it my life until my second year at UGA. I worked with an organization called The Chapel Bell: A Positive Press Publication. The TCB team consisted of some of the most driven and "hell yeah" people I've ever met. They're the ones who inspired to follow my heart and give that guy feeling a shot. Since doing so, I've been able to street paint all over the Tate Bus Bay, paint numerous murals all over Athens, design and paint the 38th bulldog statue in Athens, and have constantly had to challenge myself to think of and create new designs, campaigns and more. After being at Disney for the past 5 months, it's cool to see likeminded people think of something and make it a reality. I hope my story continues to be about me doing what makes me happy: creating, painting, thinking and, as my old roommate Beau Sinyard says, "Makin' messes."
2. What motivates you?
My mom and dad worked so hard to get me where I'm at today. From providing me with some wheels, a college education and a sweet mix mom's personality and dad's creativity—these are the two I work so hard for. I fondly refer to them as "T&D" (Todd and Dorothy). I could ramble on and on about these two, but needless to say, they're my heart and what makes me strive to be the best I can be.
3. Who is a hero of yours?
I know it might sound like I've spent too much time in Disney, but my heroes are the dreamers and the doers. I've been fortunate enough to be surrounded by those kind of people for quite some time now. My dad opened and operated a successful restaurant business for the past 27 years and recently sold it because his heart wasn't in the business anymore. Colton Fowlkes spent the past year and a half working his tail off to do everything he could to ensure he had a spot in GRU's 2020 dental school. Rachel Parks has given her heart to UGA HEROs since I first met her three years ago, and she's finishing up her 2nd term on the executive board. I know she's beyond exhausted, but she believes that these kids deserve the world. It's people like this that I try to emulate. My dad's been working so hard to put together his resume and LinkedIn and can't wait to see where he ends up. It's so exciting to see him this energized about work again. Colton got the call from GRU this past week and was one of the first students accepted into his class. Rachel was at the final event of the year with HEROs yesterday and even at the end of her three year term, she's still reaching out to everyone she knows to give a little or a lot to the HEROs kids because every dollar helps. It's people like dad, Colton and Rachel that remind me if you can dream it, you can do it.
4. What's your future plan? Your goals?
It's funny, because my plan always seems to change, whether I like it or not. Currently, I'm finishing up my time with the Disney College Program. While I've been here, I've developed mentors with Walt Disney Imagineering and Yellow Shoes Creative Group, befriended people who will occasionally put up with my request to eat at Longhorn Steakhouse for every meal, and taken advantage of having Disney World in my backyard. When I came down to Orlando, I thought it was going to be a permanent move. After living here and being told "you need experience" over and over, I'm starting to rethink my current plans. Ultimately, I want to be an Art or Creative Director for an agency or creative group. Will that be in Orlando? Atlanta? ...Quebec? I have no clue. What I do know is that I'm excited for the ride and to keep planning, painting and creating.
5. If you could give one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take things day by day. This is a little easier said than done I suppose, especially if you're not a Myers Briggs ENFP (emphasis on the P). As a recent graduate who doesn't want to give two week safaris for the rest of my life, I'm constantly reminding myself that God has a plan. I remember applying to UGA back in January 2011 and being so anxious and nervous to hear back, but Jeremiah 29:11 helped to ease the anxiety.
"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I truly do believe that everything happens for a reason, and with some hard work, you can achieve some of your craziest dreams.
6. What is something you feel strongly about (a cause, belief, etc.)?
Randy Pausch said, "People are more important than things." At my current job with Animal Kingdom, I get to meet all types of people. Some people are thrilled to be there. Some people just got to talk to their favorite childhood character. Some people are just discovering that FastPass is available to everyone and they take their frustration out on you. Whether they're ecstatic or furious, they're people with a story. Nine times out of ten, we don't know their story or what they're going through. I try my best to keep in mind the quote by Mr. Pausch and one that my friend, Sara Rammo, shared with me: "You can't not love someone if you know their story." Two weeks ago, I got to hear the story of three of my safari guests, who became some of my favorite people. It was the last safari of the day and a tired mom named Valerie approached me with two kids, Kate and Evan. Valerie was a little disappointed in her first safari and wanted to go again. It was her son Evan's birthday. She shared with me that Evan is autistic and had trouble hearing and following directions. She started tearing up when she talked about his symptoms and how he had a hard time hearing and was very particular about things and then began to tell me about how her husband passed away but she knew that he was looking down on them. I went in and gave her a hug and she just started shaking. I promised her we were going to have the best two weeks of our lives on the safari. I put them in the back row (best seat in all of Harambe Wildlife Reserve) so Evan could see everything. I gave my all to make sure they had the best experience and even got the whole truck to sing "Happy birthday" to Evan. They came up to me at the end and said they had the best time, enjoyed it so much and were going to guest relations to see if I could get a raise (Update: they went to guest relations and I've still crossing my fingers for the whole raise thing.) They were so happy and Evan and Kate were smiling from ear to ear. As they walked away Evan said, "Thanks Mr. Ryan!" It's little things like that make me believe that people really are more important than things. Be kind, because you never know what people are going through and you just might make their day with something as simple as a smile.
7. What's one of the coolest things you've ever done?
During the summer of 2012, I studied abroad in Cape Town, South Africa with Global LEAD (now known as Lead Abroad). One week of the program is known as Adventure Week. Over those seven days, we rode elephants, visited an ostrich farm, went shark cage diving where the Discovery Channel films Shark Week, but my favorite part of the week was when we went bungee jumping off of the highest bungee bridge in the world—Bloukran's Bridge. So imagine this: two strangers take you to the end of a bridge, wrap what looks like a glorified bandage around your leg and then you hear a couple of snaps, zips and clicks. After that you hear something a little more frightening than the few clicks and zips that are supposed to keep you from, well, death. The man said, "We're going to count to 5. If you don't jump, we'll push you." I know, such a comforting thing to hear before jumping off a bridge. I hopped to the edge of the bridge and hung my toes over the edge. I kept telling myself not to look down before I jumped. Spoiler, I looked down. Right when I did, the two men starting counting and I remember as they said "4," I jumped. I don't know if it was the adrenaline or the beer (or three) that I had before made me jump, but there I was in mid air flailing my arms. The first two seconds of the fall were the most terrifying two seconds of my entire 23 years of life. Strange enough, the rest of the fall was the coolest, surreal feeling I've ever felt in my entire life. I know it sounds like a cop out, but I don't even know how to describe said feeling. I do remember writing about the jump for class and saying "peaceful," "on top of the world," and "I can do anything." After the jump, we went into the gift shop to see our videos, pictures and, of course, buy the t-shirt. On the shirt, there was their slogan which is "Fear is Temporary, Regret is Forever." In everything I do, I try to muster up that 10 seconds of insane courage by reminding myself of this saying.
Fear is temporary. Regret is forever. Remember that.
8. Anything we haven't asked that you'd like to talk about?
I briefly mentioned UGA HEROs, which is one of the largest student run organizations at the University of Georgia. Over 1500+ students fundraise for the 12,000 children infected by or affected with HIV/AIDS in the state of Georgia. If you want to help them out in their last month of fundraising, here's the link to do so!
If you'd like to get in touch with Ryan about mentorship opportunities or want an EXCELLENT example of an online portfolio, please visit http://www.ryansichelstiel.com/.