From Classroom to the Magic Kingdom, Meet the COB Grad Whose Wish Upon A Star Came True

Who knew that his “Wish Upon a Star” would come true when Brendan Easley first embarked on his academic journey at Texas A&M University-Commerce in the summer of 2021?

Facing a daunting dilemma due to the reduction of his athletic scholarship at his previous institution, Easley found hope when former A&M-Commerce football coaches, Ferrick & Bailiff, extended a generous full-ride Division II scholarship, signing him to the Lion family as a wide receiver.

In his own words, Easley says he was an “average” student that was on academic probation and did not graduate magna cum laude, nor was he valedictorian. Yet, driven by a passion for excellence and a thirst for knowledge, he excelled at the College of Business. Transitioning from his initial major in information systems, Brendan enrolled in the Business Administration program while simultaneously pursuing an internship as a Data Analyst at SAIC, a premier Fortune 500 technology integrator.

His desire to choose his major stems from his eagerness to be more versatile and attractive to future employers.

“A degree in business would educate me in finance, presentation, communication, the interview process and project management skills while allowing me to network with industry professionals,” Easley said.

Little did Easley know that his career trajectory would take a magical turn when a chance encounter during a project management class would lead to a life-changing opportunity.

During his junior year, he found himself in a project management class taught by Professor Mei Lin. Initially taking the class to fulfill a credit requirement, he was pleasantly surprised by Professor Lin’s passion and dedication. Due to juggling full-time studies, an internship and being a student-athlete, he found himself drawn to Professor Lin’s engaging teaching style while only having the opportunity to watch her recorded lectures due to time constraints. However, one day, a football meeting ended early, allowing Easley to attend a live class session where a senior program manager from Disney served as a guest speaker. Inspired by the speaker’s background and the connections between project management and his current role in data visualization and analysis at SAIC, Easley's passion for a future at Disney was ignited.

After class, Easley recalls he wasted no time in connecting with the speaker on LinkedIn and expressing his aspirations. This led to frequent communication, culminating in the speaker encouraging him to apply for a project management position within Disney’s technical enterprise team upon graduation.

A few short weeks later, Easley received the phone call that would change his world.

“After hearing them offer me the job on the phone, I dropped to my knees and I cried,” Easley said. “For me to get such an opportunity straight out of college is something you can only dream of.”

Today, Easley works for Disney as a Project Manager responsible for managing enterprise-level projects and initiatives within the Disney Enterprise Technology portfolio. His responsibilities include defining project teams, developing project deliverables, and facilitating stakeholder coordination.

Easley’s journey from a student with little knowledge of project management to securing a position with his dream company serves as a testament to the transformative power of education and the invaluable mentorship provided by faculty members like Professor Mei Lin at the College of Business. Reflecting on his time at A&M-Commerce, Easley acknowledges the profound impact of his experiences as a student-athlete and intern.

“I'm grateful for what the College of Business has done for me,” Easley said. “I would not be in this position if it were not for the amazing professors that I had and the opportunities the college provided me to network with industry professionals that eventually would lead to changing my life forever.”

He continued: “This proves that we as Lions can compete with any school in the country when it comes to giving students opportunities and succeeding in life.”

Empartinf words of wisdom to prospective students, Easley says, “You don't know what those professors could have in store for you, and you might meet one that will change your life as Professor Lin did for me. If you want your dream job it's not going to be easy, but if you want it bad enough, anything is possible, especially in the College of Business.”