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May 13, 2011

Don’t be afraid to try something different!

South University Newsroom

Niya Warner Calderon
Class of 2010
Master of Arts in Professional Counseling
Columbia Campus
Employment:Teen Program Director, Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands at the Ben Arnold Unit

Don’t be afraid to try something different!

Niya Warner Calderon has many creative sides.  She draws, plays piano and trombone, and enjoys using art and music in approaches to her work every day.  Originally from Lorain, Ohio, she moved to Columbia, South Carolina, to attend South University after earning a bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Bowling Green State University.

“Counseling is not just about talking,” she explains. “And I really think it’s about more creative questions than just ‘how are you feeling today?’

According to Niya, her work takes a lot of creativity in order to do the job effectively.  

“I love that helping people can come in so many varieties,” she beams.  “And I appreciate having the freedom to take a theory I learned in school and do something creative with it at the office that I can see may help somebody.”

Niya enjoyed a happy childhood in Ohio, “But once I started my counseling internship through South University, I had to learn how to help my clients who came from backgrounds that were not so great. It sounds simple, but I had to learn how to let my guard down to relate to others.  Then, I finally realized that people are just people.”

Niya has an incredible range of empathy for others, “Something inside just compels me to want to help others who are suffering, and help can come in many different forms too.”  

While working on her master’s degree in Professional Counseling at South University, Niya says she learned how to cultivate a client’s trust and credits the externships set up by the program as well as the “incomparable teacher support” of colleagues such as Dr. Sharon Williams and Jarrod Smith as factors that led her along an inventive and inspired path in her counseling practice.

“My professors at South University placed a great deal of knowledge and resources at my fingertips,” she continues. “My classes were never just a presentation of material; they were a discourse of experience where the instructor could answer the question directly when I asked, ‘How did you do this?’”

Niya currently works with at-risk teens at the Boys and Girls Club of the Midlands at the Ben Arnold Unit in Columbia, South Carolina.  She plans to open her own counseling center some day.