GCSA Mentor Spotlight: Casey Sears


Penguin Random House is a partner with Guiding and Connecting for Student Achievement (GCSA) mentoring program. Established more than 20 years ago, GCSA’s mission is to empower youth with a unique opportunity to experience the “world of work” first-hand, develop relationships with mentors who can serve as role models, and provide innovative guidance to students as they develop their goals and focus on their post-secondary future.

Casey Sears, Senior Production Manager, has been a mentor in the GCSA program for the past three years. As a result, the GCSA Mentor Spotlight shines on Casey this month! A Senior Production Manager with Penguin Publishing Group, Casey reflects on her experience as a GCSA mentor:

What was the experience of mentoring a high school student like for you?
Getting to mentor a high school student was equal parts rewarding and humbling. I felt so grateful that my mentee trusted me with their thoughts and experiences, and I learned very quickly that I was not going to have the answers all the time (and that that was never the point to begin with). I met my mentee in person starting in Fall 2019, but quickly moved remote once COVID hit in March 2020. I’m still in awe of everything they were able to

Casey’s mentee Ross making her laugh at an in-person session at the PRH offices in 2019.

accomplish while processing constant change and stress, and I share their gratitude that they were able to have a normal prom and graduation by the time their senior year rolled around!

What impact did mentoring have on you and your mentee?
For me, no matter what stress I was feeling in my day, as soon as I got to our mentoring sessions, it made everything else disappear just to focus on my mentee for an hour. It was so fulfilling to be able to ask them how they were and what was on their mind that week. To have the opportunity to just listen to them in a way I wished I’d had in high school.

What surprised you about the experience?
How fast it went by! It was so emotional watching my mentee graduate on livestream. I couldn’t believe that I’d been with them since they were a sophomore. I felt so proud of how far they’d come, and how much work they did to bring themselves a few steps closer to their goals.

On a surface level, all the things I’d forgotten about applying to college! How long the process is, and how hard it can be to stay motivated through all the different steps when you have so many other things going on at school and home, etc.

Ross and other GCSA mentees at their GCSA graduation ceremony earlier this summer.

What is a favorite moment/conversation that you had with your mentee?
I loved talking with my mentee about their life story when we were brainstorming what they wanted to write about for their personal statement. We talked a lot about movies (they’re going to study film) and it was so fun hearing them talk about their favorites and the key moments in their life that made them who they are. Their passion and excitement is contagious and it made me so excited for their future.

Anything else you want to mention about GCSA?
I would just like to say thank you to everyone at GCSA for how they guided us through the transition from in-person to remote mentoring. It was a scary time with so much uncertainty, but they gave us all the tools we needed to keep going, while holding space for everyone to process what was going on. Thank you!

GCSA will soon be opening registration for the 2022-2023 school year. Keep an eye on Igloo for more information to come soon!

If you have any questions about GCSA, please reach out to the People Programs team.

Posted: July 26, 2022