Shariva Reed G’20 is a career changer. Although she’s not straying too far from her passion for helping children, Reed went from social worker to school counselor after receiving her degree from Saint Rose. After working in the local Child Protective Services department, she was ready to make a change but always kept the goal of helping children top of mind. Although grad school wasn’t always easy, Reed is grateful for her support system and dedicated professors for giving her the space to struggle but come out on top.
We recently caught up with Reed to ask about her Saint Rose experience and future plans. Here’s what she had to say:
What is your current title and where do you work? School Counselor for 9th and 10th grade at Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy 1 High School.
Why did you choose the school counseling program at Saint Rose: I chose the school counseling program after my coworker and friend, Liz, told me about her mental health counseling classes at Saint Rose. We had a conversation about my wanting to change my career path from being a social worker to a therapist and counselor, which then triggered me to apply. I worked as a social worker with children in different programs, such as juvenile detention centers, residential treatment centers, and rapid intervention centers with the local Child Protective Services. I loved working with the children, but didn’t want to be in these particular settings anymore. School counseling aligned with my passion for working with children and assisting in teaching life skills. Ultimately, it has put me on the path to achieve my ultimate goal, which is to open my own art therapy and counseling center, while allowing me to strengthen my counseling skills with children.
What is your favorite memory of Saint Rose? One of my favorite memories at Saint Rose would have to be attending my group counseling class, as this is where I met some of my closest friends and counseling support team.
What have you learned through the pandemic? I have learned many things during this pandemic, but one key fact it has taught me is that nothing is promised and it is important not to take anything for granted. I have worked diligently toward my success, and to say I graduated with my master’s degree, on time, during a pandemic, is something I will cherish. Reflecting back on what it took to get where I am, even with a pandemic, showed me my strength and resiliency.
Best class you took at Saint Rose and why? The best class I took at Saint Rose was Group Counseling with Dr. Stephen Birchak (now retired). This class taught me hands-on counseling skills and techniques to run a group counseling session in any setting. It also taught me that, as a counselor, it is important to receive counseling for yourself as well as to check in with yourself.
What are your future plans? In the future, I plan to open an art therapy and counseling center that will provide services for children and families in underprivileged communities. I want to have multiple sectors of therapy, from art, music, and dance therapy to traditional talk therapy.
Any career or grad school prospects? Currently, I am working at Harlem Children’s Zone Promise Academy 1 High School, and plan to continue my career here as a school counselor for the next four years to see my first-year high schooler graduate.
What did Saint Rose teach you? Saint Rose taught me that it is okay to have a breakdown mentally, physically, or emotionally — but, when you do, it is important to reach out for help and to have a positive support team to back you.
Best professor and why? This is a hard one because everyone was great, but Dr. Stephen Birchak. Dr. Birchak is the definition of resilience, gratefulness, and positivity, all in one. He was not afraid to share his life story and his challenges with us while teaching us the skills of counseling and opening up. He was the sweetest professor who pushed you to be great inside and outside of his classroom.
Advice for incoming students: To the incoming students, both undergrad and grads: Stay strong, keep pushing, and strive to be the best you can be. It will get tough, you will get overwhelmed, and it’s not going to be easy. But if you’re persistent and ask for help when it is needed, you will succeed. Make friends with your classmates as they will be on this journey with you, and who’s better to rely on than someone who knows the struggle itself, right? I had times where I cried, but I didn’t let it keep me down, and you shouldn’t either. And, last but not least, always remember to stay humble and make yourself a priority.
Look for more stories about our Class of 2021 and Class of 2020 graduates in our upcoming Saint Rose Magazine.