Santa is a Warrior!
One Wayne State alumnus plays a particularly important role this time of year – Santa Claus.
This past weekend, BLAC Detroit and Metro Parent magazines held the third annual Black Santa Photo Experience at Eastern Market. Families from all around metro Detroit came together to share milk and cookies with Santa, aka Wayne State alumnus Jeryn Calhoun ’85.
Calhoun, who earned his bachelor’s in lifelong learning with a major in humanistic studies, became a licensed social worker with Northeast Guidance Center 15 years ago. Soon after starting his position, he was asked to play Santa Claus at their annual Christmas party. He has been their Santa ever since.
To become the best Santa he could be, Calhoun decided
to attend the “Harvard of Santa Schools” in 2008. The Charles W. Howard Santa Claus School was founded in 1937 in Midland, Michigan, and is one of only four Santa Schools in the world. Students come from around the globe to learn from the best. Lessons include the history of Saint Nicholas, Santa sign language, reindeer habits, toy making, proper dress and use of make-up, among other things.
Out of 70 Santas, Calhoun was the only person of color in his graduating class. He is only the third person of color to complete the training since the school’s founding 80 years ago.
Calhoun loves being Santa because of the joy and happiness it brings to children and adults.
"The spirit of Santa Claus picks you. You have to have it in your personality to become a real Santa Claus and being a Santa of color allows all children to know Santa cares about their hopes and dreams no matter their color or economic condition. It gives children of color inspiration and makes them feel positive about their future, because Santa can look like them, too."