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Hi! My name is Toi-Shareema Grayson. I was born in East Meadow, New York at Nassau University Medical Center located in Nassau County, Long Island. I was raised by my wonderful mother Theresa Sparrow-Gill who is a retired residence director of Bethany House, a not for profit organization that services displaced women and children with housing and other resources. My grandmother Dolly Butler, also a hard worker with a great work ethic, was also instrumental in my rearing as a child. For several years I also lived with my Uncle and his wife Mr. & Mrs. Isaac Lee and their children. They were surrogate parents to me for a number of years.
I am a proud Black African American Woman. I attended college at Briarcliffe College in Bethpage, NY 1993-1994 where I received an Associates in Applied Science in Office Technologies & Liberal Arts. I graduated in 1994 Cum Laude. I attended Nassau Community College in Garden City, NY 2013-2016 where I received an Associate in Arts in Liberal Arts. I graduated in 2016 Magna Cum Laude. I attended York College in Jamaica, NY 2019-2020 where I received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I graduated in 2020 Magna Cum Laude.
Currently I’m attending Alfred University as a graduate student with an anticipated graduation of August 2022. I am currently an advanced graduate student pursuing a Master’s in Counseling/Advance Certificate in Mental Health Counseling. Upon completion of my course work I will be graduating in May of 2022.
I went into counseling for a number of reasons. My main reason is I have always had a passion and strong desire to work with people, and assist them with challenges they are experiencing. For many years I have worked with people and provided customer service in various capacities in previous job positions I have held. Transitioning into counseling working directly with people just made sense to me. The most significant turning point for me that was pivotal in leading me to this field was when I was a former nursing student going through my clinical rotation. The most rewarding experience I had throughout my journey as a nursing student was working on the psychiatric floor, with that population. The work psychiatric nurses provide to the clients is amazing. However, I knew I wanted more of a connection than just administering medications and charting. I felt directly speaking and interacting with the clients was what they needed, and what I needed to do. That experience solidified for me what I should be doing. It was at that moment I decided to become a therapist with the desire to help make a difference in my community.
I have always been told that I am a great listener, trustworthy, non-judgmental, respectful, and my family and friends feel comfortable sharing their concerns with me. That is because they know what is shared with me is confidential and stays between us. Helping people in any way has always been rewarding to me. The most rewarding part of being a counselor is knowing that I have a part in affecting the life of another human being. Giving people hope when they may be feeling hopeless. Inspiring others to set goals for themselves so they can be all that they are capable of being. There is nothing more gratifying than being a vessel to collaborate with individuals to help them maximize their potential.
I care about working with Black people and people of color because I am a Black African American Woman. What better way to help serve my community than to work with individuals that look like me. Most of my community is underserved and don’t have access to basic needs as well as adequate health care and or resources needed to survive. I am a Black woman living in the United States that has experienced some of the same struggles and understand the struggle we often deal with on a daily basis just by waking up. I want to help individuals of color unpack any of the struggles they have dealt with in the past or are dealing with currently that may be hindering them from reaching their maximized potential. My intent is to create a safe space and environment where they feel free to unpack, set goals, and meet the challenge on their own terms.
Unfortunately I have had to deal with racism in my life. I have experienced racism on several occasions, but one particular incident stands out for me. It happened as a younger adult a number of years ago. I was going to Home Depot in Long Island in the town where I was raised, and completed all my education there. I knew everything about the town. Well at least I thought I knew everything about where I grew up my entire life. I was in the store parking lot and had just gotten out of the car walking through the parking lot to make my way to the store. As I was walking a huge truck pulled up alongside of me in the parking lot and white man was driving the car. I stopped in my tracks because I thought he was turning into the empty parking space I was approaching. He then stopped his vehicle and rolled his window down and said “Hey nigg** where are you going” I looked around because I didn’t believe he was talking to me but I was the only one there. I looked at him and smiled and just kept going on my way. He started yelling and getting more irritated because I just kept smiling. I didn’t give him any of my time, effort, or energy because he was not worthy of a response from me.
It was clear that he was looking for a confrontation and I was not giving him that satisfaction. I knew he was ignorant and nothing I said or could have done at that moment would have changed who he was. It did bother me because I had never experienced upfront racism like that where I grew up. Not to say that it didn’t exist but at that point it had never been that personal to me. I felt good about the way I handled the situation because although that ignorant individual was trying to get a rise out of me, my response or lack there of ultimately got more of a rise out of him.
My clinical approach will be based on the individual client’s needs. However, my specialties are Alcohol and Addiction, Trauma, Anxiety, and Depression. My clients will experience me as a Black African American woman who is here to create a safe confidential space to collaborate with them to maximize their potential. Together we can build a rapport and relationship so they are able to meet the goals they set for themselves. I have often been told I’m a great listener and easy to talk to. I am confident and have a great work ethic. I will go the extra mile to assist when I am called on for help. I have also been told that I am reliable. I show up when I make a commitment to anyone or any cause. I take pride in being known as a reliable individual because my clients and colleagues know if I commit to anything I will be there. I am a woman of my word and follow up on the things I commit to doing. I create a space where they can openly, freely, and without judgement tell me what brought them in to talk to me.
I love all kinds of art, from music, poetry, theatre, dance, paintings, and statues. I love it all! I have seen a number of Broadway shows, some of them more than once. Before the pandemic I would go to shows on Broadway regularly. I love, love, love ballet. For my birthday every year I would go see some of the productions put on by the American Ballet every season at Lincoln Center. Also, right before the Pandemic, I was fortunate enough to go to a performance of the New York Philharmonic at Lincoln Center. As a child I always loved the arts. I was a member of the chorus in school and choir at church. I also played several musical instruments like the French horn and the violin.
This love of music and the arts has followed me into adulthood!