Disneyland Resort & Big Brothers Big Sisters Set up High School Students for Success

Behind every high school graduate is a support system—family, friends, teachers and mentors—that helps shape their personal and professional paths. At Disneyland Resort, mentorship is critical to supporting and uplifting the local community. Through collaboration with impactful programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire’s Workplace Mentoring Program, Disney cast members provide valuable mentorship to local high school students. These mentors impart their wisdom and insights before these graduates cross the stage into their futures. 

Disneyland Resort cast members mentor local high school students  

Over the last three years, 13 Disney mentors from Disneyland Resort have brought inspiring guidance to students from Katella High School in Anaheim, supporting them during a pivotal point in their life. As part of the resort’s Community Workforce Development Initiative, these cast members were each matched with a mentee, acting as a resource for development as the students progressed through their high school experience with monthly meetings, professional development opportunities, relationship-building activities and more. 

“The growth and bonds formed by the Disneyland Resort mentors and Katella High School mentees over the past three years have been remarkable,” said Brianna Rios, Senior Regional Director of Programs for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire. “What begins as a relationship between strangers evolves into lifelong connections, fostered by guiding youth to discover their passions and build the confidence to pursue them.”

The magic of mentorship: Disney mentors make a difference  

For Sales & Services Manager Ivy Goodman, mentorship extends beyond the classroom – it’s a lifelong commitment to provide guidance and encouragement for students: “A mentor is someone to look up to for leadership, for grounding and support when needed,” Ivy said. “I have tried to be all of these things to my mentees.”  

Disney mentor Ivy Goodman and her mentee, Alexa, at the Big Brothers Big Sisters end-of-program celebration. 

Ivy and her mentee, Alexa, discovered commonalities between them that kickstarted their mentorship — everything from a mutual passion for show choir to a love for the same restaurants. Over their years-long connection, Ivy provided advice and insights that were crucial to Alexa’s growth throughout her young adulthood, always encouraging her to stay focused and give those around her the benefit of the doubt. As a Disney mentor, Ivy has attended Alexa’s choir performances, invited her to participate in Disney VoluntEARS events and attended her graduation celebration!  

“Alexa’s graduation was so exciting because I don’t have children. To have such a special relationship and to be there to witness this moment in her life was so gratifying,” Ivy said. Though this mentorship program has concluded, Ivy is certain her relationship with Alexa will continue; they even have future plans set to attend Disney VoluntEARS events and celebrate milestones together. 

Disney mentor Ivy Goodman with mentee Alexa as a new high school graduate.  

Disney mentors build bonds through Big Brothers Big Sisters  

Disney mentor Tyler Castro and his mentee, Anthony, celebrate the positive, lasting impact of Big Brothers Big Sisters. 

Another inspiring pair, Disneyland Resort Senior Manager of Business Integration Tyler Castro similarly saw himself in his mentee, Anthony. Tyler aimed to foster Anthony’s growing success as much as possible. “There’s a lot going on in the world. I know I can’t fix everything, but any little thing I can do to make a difference for one person, to me, that is important,” Tyler shared. 

Through the mentorship program, what began as a virtual relationship, quickly blossomed into a close bond that developed from mutually learning from one another. Both Tyler and Anthony found neither of them enjoyed being in the limelight, but they pushed one another to take risks to pursue their passions.  

For Anthony, being a mentee to Tyler sparked his confidence, encouraging him to work on developing his own fashion line, attend college tours and apply for a dream leadership program. Tyler, in turn, found inspiration from Anthony’s drive and passion, and applied this to his work as a leader at Disneyland Resort.  

Disney cast members Ivy Goodman and Tyler Castro are honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters as 2024 Workplace Mentoring Program Mentors of the Year. 

Honoring the 2024 Mentors of the Year 

Ivy and Tyler were both honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire as 2024 Workplace Mentoring Program Mentors of the Year for their dedicated commitment to supporting Alexa and Anthony at this pivotal point in their lives. This recognition speaks to the power of mentorship  in championing bright futures and creating a long-lasting impact on students. 

“I was really touched that Big Brothers Big Sisters recognized what I had been doing with Anthony and could see a visible change in him,” Tyler said. “What was more rewarding was that someone could see Anthony’s development through this program. It’s all I can ask for.” 

The final celebration before graduation 

Katella High School participants celebrate three years with their mentors during their Big Brothers Big Sisters end-of-program celebration. 

In their final session together, the group gathered for a celebration honoring their three years together – a bittersweet afternoon full of excitement and joy as these graduates reflected while also looking ahead to the future. As part of the celebration, the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentors were invited to attend their graduation ceremonies and take part in celebrating the monumental milestone.  

Disney mentors Emily Wu (left) and Jennifer Santillan (right) pose with their mentees after their graduation. 

Disney mentors continue support after cohort ends  

Though this special cohort has concluded, these relationships formed through mentorship are certainly not over. As the students begin their next adventures, their mentors at Disneyland Resort will always be a source of support, reminding them to “keep moving forward.”