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Staying the Course

Teachers College anthropology doctoral student Shana Colburn recounts her journey to the threshold of completing her Ph.D. 

Shana Colburn
Shana Colburn
There is something about making it to the final lap of a long race. Perhaps it’s knowing the end is near, or that failure seems farther away. I recently recalled running the mile in sixth grade to my husband. There I am, on the final curve of the final lap, and I just can’t continue. I can see my coach, my dad and my teammates cheering me on, but there isn’t enough push left in me. I stop and walk to the finish line.

[ Read more: Celebrating Our Students This Holiday Season ]

This story is a metaphor for where I am today — on the final lap once again. But this time I am attempting to fulfill a lifelong dream, one propelled by a deep and strong feeling which for more than 20 years has taken me across continents and through various disciplinary domains in its pursuit. Now I am about to complete my Ph.D. in anthropology at Teachers College and cross the finish line.

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I came to TC with the intention to research a South Korean expatriate community in Beijing. However, I took a detour with my master’s thesis, study-ing Korean-American adoptees in New York City, only to return to the project on the South Koreans in Beijing as proposed dissertation work, before fully turning away from it. I saw these shifts as failures, and it wasn’t until I built my current project, an ethnographic study of China’s first Internet radio station, that the threads from those first years made sense. That is, I began to recog-nize and embrace the core of my in­tellectual interests: how categories are established and thrive as living things.

To this end, my dissertation project analyzes the category of the Chinese state, examining how individuals in a state-monitored media organiza­tion talk about and interact with their government. Within the land-scape of this work, and with the un-failing support of my adviser, Dr. Lambros Comitas, the pieces of the last nine years and beyond have fallen into place. Through my commitment to this project, amidst the grant propos­als, research permissions, committee approvals and all the uncertainty, I have learned how to cross that finish line.

Published Wednesday, Dec 21, 2016

Teachers College anthropology doctoral student Shana Colburn recounts her journey to the threshold of completing her Ph.D. 

Shana Colburn
Shana Colburn
There is something about making it to the final lap of a long race. Perhaps it’s knowing the end is near, or that failure seems farther away. I recently recalled running the mile in sixth grade to my husband. There I am, on the final curve of the final lap, and I just can’t continue. I can see my coach, my dad and my teammates cheering me on, but there isn’t enough push left in me. I stop and walk to the finish line.

[ Read more: Celebrating Our Students This Holiday Season ]

This story is a metaphor for where I am today — on the final lap once again. But this time I am attempting to fulfill a lifelong dream, one propelled by a deep and strong feeling which for more than 20 years has taken me across continents and through various disciplinary domains in its pursuit. Now I am about to complete my Ph.D. in anthropology at Teachers College and cross the finish line.

Support Scholarship

GIVE NOW

— or —

Contribute to an existing tribute or program fund scholarship. Find the scholarship that resonates with you!

I came to TC with the intention to research a South Korean expatriate community in Beijing. However, I took a detour with my master’s thesis, study-ing Korean-American adoptees in New York City, only to return to the project on the South Koreans in Beijing as proposed dissertation work, before fully turning away from it. I saw these shifts as failures, and it wasn’t until I built my current project, an ethnographic study of China’s first Internet radio station, that the threads from those first years made sense. That is, I began to recog-nize and embrace the core of my in­tellectual interests: how categories are established and thrive as living things.

To this end, my dissertation project analyzes the category of the Chinese state, examining how individuals in a state-monitored media organiza­tion talk about and interact with their government. Within the land-scape of this work, and with the un-failing support of my adviser, Dr. Lambros Comitas, the pieces of the last nine years and beyond have fallen into place. Through my commitment to this project, amidst the grant propos­als, research permissions, committee approvals and all the uncertainty, I have learned how to cross that finish line.

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