We had the good fortune of connecting with Molly Casey and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Molly, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
In May 2018, I was faced with the decision to leave my career as a multimedia journalist (aka a reporter that does the job of six people but gets paid for two thirds of a typical job) and producer. I began my journey to becoming an MMJ and producer in high school, working as the school news show host for three years. I then pursued an undergrad degree in broadcast journalism and production from Chapman University and interned at KABC, KNBC, and NBC Nightly News for three years. I was hellbent on making my forever career in the news industry.

What all of those experiences didn’t prepare me for were the sights and sounds that I would face on a daily basis. As an MMJ, I encountered much of what EMTs and first responders see and hear. Just a short list would be:

• two women impaled into a tree due to a speeding/DUI accident (and a third that was DOA under the car)
• reporting from inside of the Montecito Mudslide zone
• having my life threatened by a viewer on more than one occasion
• covering the story of Savannah LaFontaine-Greywind and reviewing the court documents that listed in detail what her murderer did to her body.

If that wasn’t enough, the final straw was seeing what was left of a murder victim in a river in March of 2018. She was not much older than my 22-year-old self at the time and looked a good bit like me. D; dark brunette hair, green eyes, on the taller side, – it was eerie. If seeing that wasn’t bad enough, my news director and executive producer sent me back into the canyon where her body was found for a full week after, not caring to check on my mental health or well-being. I was terrified. The murderer was still on the loose, and I had just seen one of the most horrific scenes anyone could see. Plus, I was being fed information by the investigators that was much beyond what I needed as they had come to trust me.

My mental health was teetering from all the aforementioned hell suffered during work weeks that were often made of more than five days of 10-plus hour shifts.

But I didn’t wan’t to quit. I couldn’t bring myself to leave the only career I had planned on chasing. It felt like I was failing. I was the valedictorian, Summa Cum Laude, high-achieving, go-getter that didn’t quit.

And then I did.

On May 25, 2018, I turned in my camera gear and station car keys one more time. A month later, June 26, 2018, I had a mental break and was diagnosed with complex post traumatic stress disorder on June 28, 2018. The decision to quit news when I did most likely saved my life. I didn’t realize before my diagnosis that mental health and caring for one’s mental health truly does matter.

Today, I am grateful I finally said “I quit” to the one career that I had planned for. It was the most difficult decision but the one that most likely saved my life.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a public and media relations unicorn with a crown.

I was bound and determined to only ever work in news. When my mental health became priority number one because of the damage news left me with, I floundered to figure out what my next steps were. Thankfully., they were fun ones.

My first job outside of news was an internship turned paid communications assistant position with the San Luis Obispo Chamber of Commerce. The group of communication and business professionals that filled our one light, bright, and tight office became my first true work family. My boss, Molly (yes!), took me on and taught me everything she could about public and media relations. Kerri helped me learn social and web skills. And everyone else threw what knowledge and love they could at me. They didn’t know I had cPTSD, they just wanted to help how they could.

After a year with the Chamber and starting my master’s in communication management online at the University of Denver, I landed an internship turned communications coordinator role at Healthgrades (now part of WebMD). I learned more than I could ever imagine and had a blast doing it. I loved going to work. And then I experienced my first corporate mass lay-off. In 2020 nonetheless.

Yet, after bouncing through a marketing role, graduating with my master’s, and trying corporate social media, I decided to branch out on my own and see how I could help small businesses gain PR and media traction. This is where found my passion. I LOVE pitching stories, throwing away press releases (they don’t work FYI), and landing placements across the country. Public and media relations is the work that makes me so darn happy.

So, I found a full-time position to do just that. I am lucky to be the public and media relations specialist at Medical Solutions, and still help small businesses here and there with PR and media. It’s just fun to see small businesses flourish.

Throughout my career journey, I’ve learned four things:
• The saying “you never know unless you try” that my Grandpa raised me on is true in all aspects of life.
• Your worth is defined by you, not a boss or company or job that doesn’t see your talents and skills.
• No one job is perfect, but you’ll find the perfectly imperfect one that makes you happy.
• No job is worth your mental health or stress.

Oh, and when you change careers, things you never thought could happen will. I was able to buy my first home within two years of quitting news, I was making over double my salary as an MMJ, and I have been able to return to the hobby that empowers me: pageantry. Get that image of Honey BooBoo out of your mind, because that is far from what real pageantry is and does for young women.

As a teen, I was crowned Miss Colorado’s Outstanding Teen 2012. During my year of service and through competing at Miss America’s Outstanding Teen, I received more than $400,000 in scholarships and scholarship offers. Competing in pageants has helped me build the skills to interview extremely well, manage my time personally and professionally, nail personal presentation, excell at public speaking, and participate in business relations. I love it and am proud to serve as the current Miss Metropolitan for America Strong.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I can do this! I do this often!

First Day:
Everyone is hungry after a flight. It’s an unspoken truth of travel. I always bring my visitors first thing to Sam’s No. 3 in Glendale, CO. Everyone can find something they like, the food is great, the staff members are always a pleasure, and you can’t beat the prices.

After a good meal, acclamation to altitude, and a rest, I usually bring my guest to either Urban Putt or Happy Camper. They’re both Denver staples and are bright and fun. It’s a good way to start the trip.

Day Two:
It’s Denver sports day! I love making guests breakfast, so after a Boulder omelette and palisade peach, it’s off to a quick walk around Washington Park and coffee at Stella’s Coffee Haus. Now that we’re closer to downtown, it’s time to visit Union Station. This was a questionable stop before the clean-up efforts in early 2022, but it’s a fun place to stop by. We’ll wander through McGregor Square, take a gander at Coors Field, and then head to Ball Arena for an Avalanche playoff game, because GO AVS GO. Should we still have voices left, popping over to Denver Beer Co. and/or Inside Scoop Creamery is always a good plan

Day Three:

After sleeping off the adrenaline from the Avalanche winning, it’s time for a hike! While most might head towards Boulder, I’m partial to the trails around Red Rocks in Morrison or heading south to Castle Rock. Need some food before or after? In Morrison you can’t miss Beau Jo’s and a shopping trip to the hidden consignment shop. In Castle Rock, you have to hit Scileppi’s at the Old Stone Church and wander through The Barn.

After we’ve gotten our hike in, it’s time to hit the showers, but we aren’t home for long. Now that the day has cooled down a bit, we’re heading to LoHi. We’ll have drinks on the rooftop of Linger’s to watch the Colorado sunset and then walk over to Recess Beer Garden for late dinner and great drinks.

At any point during this long weekend, I may throw in a trip to Lowry to visit Wings Over the Rockies and the Lowry Beer Garden (hey, Casey!) or swing over to Arvada to go to School House Kitchen and Libations after an adventure through the Army Surplus Store.

I’m an urbanite – born, raised, and living in Denver. In fact, I’m’ currently Miss Metropolitan for America Strong. So, I’m biased towards the more urban adventures. However, if you need a weekend getaway in the mountains, make sure your guest has a day in Denver to get acclimated to the altitude before bringing them higher. Then head to Victorville and stay in the hospital turned hotel or, my favorite, Grand Lake.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
The first person I want to thank is Fr. Gerry Robinson S.J. of the Cal Poly Newman Center. He may well never see this, but he is the one who not only brought me down on the day of my mental break but also started me on my mental health recovery journey. I am not a religious person, but he was truly sent by a guardian angel.

My parents, Joe and Sally. They’ve stood by me through my journey.

Tyler, my amazing boyfriend and best friend. He brought me out of cPTSD trigger moments when I needed it most.

The National Alliance for Mental Illness and Psychology Today. These two resources are how and why I was able to find the therapists and psychologists that helped me conquer cPTSD.

Website: mollycaseymedia.com

Instagram: @molly_casey

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/molly-casey/

Twitter: @mollyccasey

Facebook: @mollycaseymedia

Image Credits
Sweetwine Photography (pink gown with BF Tyler Ubben) Jay Cupcake Photography (Miss Denver USA shot)

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