"Cornell students dream bigger dreams."

--Frank H.T. Rhodes, Cornell University Commencement, May 28, 1995

Monday, May 12, 2014

55. Jeff and Julie Speiser

Celebration, Florida · Arts and Sciences

Names at Cornell
Jeff Speiser and Julie Allen


Twitter: @jeffspeiser


Tell us about what you're doing with your life.

We're living in Celebration, FL which is just a few minutes away from Walt Disney World, with our son Connor (13) and daughter Willow (10). It's definitely a change of pace from our past residences in Leonia, NJ and Ann Arbor, MI. 

Julie is working as a training specialist for Disney Cruise Line, where she trains the cast members in the call center, so if you ever call to book a cruise, ask if they know Julie!

Jeff is a marketing and design consultant for Disney's Global Creativity division and Disney Institute, where he helps come up with marketing ideas for Disney Parks around the world.

What was your favorite class at Cornell, or the one you found the most useful?

Visual Anthropology with Professor Robert Ascher. The conversations that we had in that class were very informal (we sat on tree stumps in the middle of his office), but were some of the best discussions that I've ever had. I loved the informal nature of the class while still getting a lot done. It was also a unique way to learn about people of different cultures.

I remember taking a Children's Literature class and loving every moment of it. It had nothing to do with my major, but I loved reading all the original Grimm's fairytales, discovering how scary and gruesome the original Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty tales truly were! For years I taught theater and creative writing to where the kids would write their own "fairytale" and then I would direct their performance. My final project in that class was a presentation on the original Bambi story and how Walt Disney "Disney-fied it." Strange how I ended up working for his company years later!

What is your favorite memory of your time at Cornell?
Julie and I got married at the A.D. White house, so I'd have to say our wedding reception there.

I remember participating in many theater performances at the Center for Performing Arts and having rehearsals until 11:00 pm. Before trecking across the campus to my dorm in Risley Hall, we would call my boyfriend (now husband) Jeff and ask him to order a pizza from Rogans—1 medium pizza and 2 free Pepsis for $5.95 (273-6006). It was the best snack after a long rehearsal and before starting to study. Couldn't beat the price either!

What random or surprising encounters with Cornell or Cornellians have you experienced since you left?

Working at Disney, you see people from all over the world every day. I'v been in Walt Disney World and have seen guests wearing a Cornell shirt or a cast member with Cornell on their name tag (if they're doing an internship) and it starts a conversation. Just this past week I met a young woman working in my building who was doing an internship in marketing.

My family went to see The Lion King when it came to Orlando. As we were sitting in the audience before the show, I noticed an insert about a switch for one of the actors for the performance. It said that Tony Freeman would be playing Timon that day. Turns out it was the same Tony Freeman that I had worked with as his TA while he was a Guest Artist in Residence at Cornell! It was incredible after the show to express to him how he inspired me to become a teacher and we even got a backstage tour!