Tamara Mull plans to be a Disney Imagineer
Achieving is nothing new for Tamara Mull. This freshman defines the promise of Kirkwood: making the most of what you’ve got.
Growing up on a farm near Monticello with her grandparents, Tamara learned early to push to overcome obstacles. Her mother taught her determination; she was a single mom raising four kids, living with her parents while she attended the University of Northern Iowa. As the oldest of four, Tamara helped shoulder responsibility. Her grandfather was another great role model.
“Growing up with my grandpa is where I picked up the character traits I possess: perseverance, responsibility, honesty and respect above all,” Tamara says. “I’d do anything to make him proud.”
In fourth grade, Tamara’s family moved to Marion, where the pace of school was more intense. She was shy and didn’t ask questions. She struggled with math until middle school, when her math teacher helped her turn the corner. In high school, she began to shine.
“I pushed myself to double up on math courses my sophomore year, which allowed me to take AP calculus my senior year,” Tamara recalls. “I never took the easy courses. I put myself in all the advanced math and English classes.”
She was on the honor roll, won a Math and Science Award, joined cheerleading, track, Robotics Club and was on Marion’s First Tech Challenge team.
Her boyfriend’s mom, an engineer at Rockwell, encouraged Tamara to apply for a Rockwell engineering internship. She didn’t receive it but she was one of two Marion students chosen to take two introductory engineering courses through Rockwell.
“I realized I really was good at math,” Tamara notes. “I started to gain my confidence.”
This fall, Tamara’s in her first semester at Kirkwood in pre-engineering, with plans
to earn a four-year degree in Civil Systems Engineering, with a minor in Business.
She also won a Giacoletto Foundation Scholarship from the Kirkwood Foundation to help with school expenses.
“The scholarship made the biggest difference ever,” Tamara says. “It was the biggest weight off my shoulders. And the letter about the scholarship arrived on my birthday! That was the best birthday present ever.”
Tamara had considered Iowa State University, but worried about the cost.
“A lot of my friends were planning to go to Kirkwood for their general education credits. I heard good things about Kirkwood,” she recalls. “I asked a career counselor about it and he said it was the best way to go.”
Ultimately, Tamara’s dream is to work for Disney as an imagineer – someone who designs rides for Disney World.
She dreams big, but that’s what her grandpa would want. He died this summer, but not before seeing Tamara’s Kirkwood acceptance letter and scholarship award.
“When he saw my scholarship letter, his eyes just lit up,” Tamara says. “He took a picture of the letter and put it on Facebook.”
She knows he’s with her in spirit, proud of her determination.
Disney Imagineer hopeful, Tamara Mull, attended the Disney Institute held at The Kirkwood Center on July 9, 2014. “When the Kirkwood Foundation called me with the opportunity to attend this, I was so excited I called my grandma immediately. We celebrated with dinner out that night.”
Mull brimmed with excitement when relaying the content discussed in the Institute: “They focused on ‘guestology’, which is their word for guest relations. Guestology is knowing your guests and meeting their needs in a positive way – and building their experience for them, not yourself.”
Mull was introduced to a presenter for the Institute, who told her he would put her in touch with someone in the Imagineering program. He recommended she pursue a Disney internship. Everything about the morning reinforced her desire to become an Imagineer.
“In my room I have pictures of Mickey Mouse that I see every day. I got them after being invited to the Institute as a way to help me visualize my goal,” she beams. “And now I’ll be repeating the mantra from the Institute, as well: ‘Have a magical day’.”