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Hard work pays off for counseling PhD student

A college education may not guarantee a dream job, but with hard work and the right amount of extracurricular involvement, it will likely get you much closer to that goal.

Just ask Taylor Burrowes Nixon. Even before graduating from Barry's counseling doctoral program, her hard work and immersion has prepared her for a new position as deputy chair of the Mental Health Commission in the Cayman Island’s Ministry of Health, Sports, Youth & Culture.    

"If you want to become an exceptional leader, a transformative leader, Barry University is the place for you," she says. 

Burrowes Nixon was raised in the Caymans but came to South Florida at age 12, studying at Miami Country Day School. For college, she first went to New Orleans, earning a degree in psychology at Tulane and a master's at Loyola.

“I visited Barry countless times during high school.” said Burrowes Nixon. “I knew a lot of the teachers."

When the time came to pursue a doctorate, she chose Barry for the reputation of its PhD program in counseling, which is accredited by the respected Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs.

Once at Barry, Burrowes Nixon plunged into an intense world of small classes, engaged teachers, and intimate conversations. She recounts the relationships with her instructors as some of her most lasting memories.

"The counseling program was very cathartic," Burrowes Nixon said. "Many times I was brought to tears in conversations."

She found scholastic challenges as well. The program included concentrated training, with teams of students working with actual clients. The students also worked as "reflecting teams," with one person designated as the counselor as the others called in suggestions.

She not only learned to be a professional therapist; she also learned counselor education by supervising master's degree students. "That made a bridge between being a student and a mentor. And it got me closer to a peer level with my professors."

During her time at Barry, Burrowes Nixon networked often with students as well as professors. She served twice as chapter president of Chi Sigma Iota, the counseling honor society. She also became an International Fellow, which led to distance internships with seasoned professionals from the society.

With her Barry education, Burrowes Nixon came full circle when she moved back to George Town in the Cayman Islands to begin working as a licensed mental health counselor. As a private practitioner, she lent her expertise to the country’s Mental Health Law Review Task Force, which updated applicable laws in the Caymans.

Her work on the task force led to the creation of the Mental Health Commission to develop care systems – with Taylor as its deputy chairperson. "I'm so excited and honored," she said. "It's a brand new branch of government. It's my dream job."

Her knowledge and hard work have not gone unnoticed by her countrymen. She recently spoke at a TEDx event, a locally owned version of the popular TED speaker series, on April 3 at Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman. The theme of the event was "Connecting to Possibility,” and her lecture offered a theory that explores systemic ideas to resolving global issues at a local level. Her lecture was archived and is available for viewing. Visit the TEDx SevenMileBeach site for more information.

What would Burrowes Nixon say to others considering an education at Barry University? She doesn't hesitate with an answer: "Be prepared to work hard. It's a very rigorous program. It's going to challenge and demand a lot. But it's going to be worth it."

Burrowes Nixon defended her PhD on March 31. Her official commencement is scheduled for May 3.

For more information on the PhD in counseling offered by Barry’s Adrian Dominican School of Education, visit www.barry.edu/counseling-phd, or contact Christine Sacco-Bene, PhD, at Christine Sacco-Bene, PhD or 321-235-8411.  

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