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Future Leaders

The Last Word: TC Student Voices


Illustration: John S. Sykes
Illustration: John S. Sykes
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.

Shana Colburn
After a journey across continents and disciplinary domains, “I am about to complete my Ph.D. in anthropology at Teachers College and cross the finish line.” —Shana Colburn

This story is a metaphor for where I am today — on the final lap once again. But this time I am at-tempting 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.

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, studying 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 recognize 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 landscape of this work, and with the unfailing 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. 
—Shana Colburn

Teachers College anthropology doctoral student Shana Colburn is writing her dissertation on a state-monitored Chinese media organization.


The Talking Therapist

Mariel Buque
Mariel Buque
To bond with her Latina/o clients, Mariel Buque is learning to “self-disclose” 

Mariel Buque is good at learning about others. Arriving at age five in the United States from the Dominican Republic, she learned English and became a stellar student. She’s since worked on a suicide hotline and with children with cerebral palsy.  n  Now a fourth-year doctoral student in TC’s program in Latina/o Mental Health, Buque is “extracting and using cultural information to help people navigate therapy.” Yet she’s also working outside her comfort zone. “As a counseling psychologist, you’re taught to strive for neutrality,” she says, “but with Latinas/os, you must engage in personal small talk. Otherwise they won’t come back.”

Buque believes Latinas/os who receive counseling are more likely to get medical care. Backed by a federal grant,  she sees clients at Columbia University Medical Center. She has lots to tell them — but  she’s listening, too.

Learn more about TC’s Latina/o Mental Health program.

Published Friday, Dec 16, 2016