Panda Cares Presented by Panda Express & UNCF returned post-pandemic with a 3-Day Leadership Conference that took place at Disneyworld in Orlando Florida! For over seven decades, UNCF has helped minority students reach their educational goals through scholarships, workshops, galas, and more. During 2023’s spring break, Panda Cares brought over 250 college seniors to Disneyworld for an all-expense-paid experience consisting of workshops, on-site field training, and a career fair with top companies such as Wells Fargo, The Walt Disney Company, and AT&T. Scholars joined the conference from 115 institutions including Clark Atlanta University, Grambling State University, Spelman College, Dillard University, Morehouse College, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University, and many others.
The conference kicked off with a welcome dinner where the students wore attire that represented their schools and divine 9 organizations. It also consisted of students meeting each other for the first time as they started Panda Cares in 2020 during the pandemic. As they mingled, danced, and listened to guest speaker, Taliah Givens, Senior Director or UNCF, some students were filled with emotions as they soaked in the moment. One of the program’s shining stars, Olorundamilola “Lola” Okemeta was filled with emotion as she expressed her gratitude for the program. Lola is a first-generation college student from Africa. As a sophomore, she was attending college and excelling in the classroom, but she was also homeless. After UNCF found out that she was homeless and sleeping in a train station, they immediately found assistance. Lola is currently preparing for graduation and has been accepted into 4 Ivy League schools to receive her master’s degree.
Scholars also participated in a walk-through at Disney’s corporate office, where they spoke with executives and heard tips on how to excel in the workplace. After they spoke with executives, they received a surprise visit from Serial Entrepreneur and Clark Atlanta Grad, Pinky Cole of Slutty Vegan. Cole discussed Maximizing Your Passions, How To Navigate In Your Lane When Others Are Selling The Same Product As You, Using Your Platform For A Greater Cause, and Balance Between Self, Personal, and Business Life.
Before wrapping the conference, special guest, Discovery Channel’s Ghost Brothers Co-Star Dalen Spratt, held a concurrent session where he spoke to scholars about The Art of Negotiations and getting the salary you deserve.