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Hampton University Wins 1st Place In Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge

The Walt Disney Company held Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge, a design competition, earlier this year. The competition focused on current HBCU students and one illustrious school situated on the Virginia coast came out on top.

The Hampton University team, comprised of Trajan Baker, Alexis Golston, Yndeiah Kilby, and Abdul Cokley, ultimately won the competition with their design. The basis of the Disney On The Yard Innovation Challenge was to allow HBCU students to respond to a prompt by coming up with an original concept.

“The project design focused on an area being studied by the third-year design students and focused on sea-level rise,” Robert L. Easter, chair of the architecture department, said. “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.”

The four teammates provided further information on “Zahara’s Palace,” which is fictionally located in Norfolk, Virginia.

“In Zahara’s village, irrigation canals were a primary strategy used to control the heavy floodwaters from the Nile River,” the team collectively wrote. “Our design draws inspiration from the strategies of Zahara’s village to address the flooding from the Elizabeth River.”

Dr. William R. Harvey, Hampton’s President, also recognized the students’ win.

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

The four students were awarded $4,000 in scholarship funds and a Disney+ subscription for winning the competition. Additionally, the students won $10,000 to be divided between their programs of study: architecture, management, and marketing.

“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,” the website reads. “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.”

Information about the Disney On The Yard Challenge is available via the initiative’s webpage.

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