Meet Noha Aly, a Magic Kingdom PhotoPass Photographer, Disney Aspire alumni and Egyptian refugee. This past year, Noha celebrated her son’s high school graduation and her daughter’s graduation from community college—but she never thought she’d also be celebrating her own graduation.
Noha immigrated to Orlando from Egypt seven years ago, leaving behind violence and conflict back home. She acclimated to an entirely new culture while her husband remained home in Egypt waiting for his own immigration clearance. “It’s hard to live alone with two children in a new country at 40,” she said.
Back home in Egypt, Noha previously earned a Bachelor’s degree in accounting but later found she didn’t enjoy the work. Her passion for photography led her to Walt Disney World Resort, where she’s a PhotoPass Photographer on Main Street, U.S.A.
While it wasn’t easy to change direction in her home country, Noha wanted to take advantage of the educational opportunities in America right away. “From day one when I moved to the U.S., I was looking to study,” she said. But being an international student can be expensive—with out-of-state tuition and barriers to obtaining financial aid.
That’s when she discovered Disney Aspire—Disney’s education and career investment program. The best part? There would be no cost to her, as Disney Aspire covers 100% of tuition up front at a network of schools across the country.
Despite the pandemic, a temporary pause in her education journey and even more obstacles along the way, Noha graduated earlier this year with a Bachelor of Science in Project Management from Bellevue University—and even traveled to Nebraska to attend her commencement ceremony in person.
“Everyone was very nice and welcoming,” she said. “I loved being there during graduation. I felt like I had been there every day.”
Noha’s career journey has taken her to Cigna—where she hopes to move into a project management role—while continuing to work part-time at Walt Disney World Resort.
Disney Aspire is all about making the education and career dreams of our employees come true —whether at Disney or beyond, and we can’t wait to see where Noha’s journey takes her next.