Shanaé Burch ‘13 on Making it in Public Health

November 8, 2022

Thumbnail of Shanaé Burch for the Making it Big in 30 Minutes Podcast

Shanaé Burch is a storyteller at heart and is now using her roots in the theater to revive health and reconcile hearts while pursuing an EdD in Public Health at Columbia University. Her path may seem like a winding one but as she shares her experiences on the stage, in the classroom and as a co-editor of Poetry for the Public’s Health, you’ll find that this Emerson alum is a living embodiment of our motto, Innovation in Communication and the Arts. Recorded on August 2, 2022

Find more of Shanaé on IG/Twitter @shanaerebecca and shanaeburch.com
More of Georgette at georgettepierre.com

Transcript: Season 5, Episode 5

Shanaé Burch


Georgette:
What does it mean to make it big? Well, it depends on who you ask. And we did. Welcome to Making It Big In 30 minutes, a podcast for, by, and about the Emerson community. You're about to meet an Emersonian who's making it. Making a living, making a difference, and sometimes making it up as they go. I'm your host and alum Georgette Pierre. If you like what you hear, subscribe and share with your friends, and meet me and other Emersonian over on Emerge, the only digital platform exclusive to the Emerson community. Go to emerge.emerson.edu for more.Shanaé Birch believes in the power of storytelling to revive health and reconcile hearts. She studied acting at Emerson and was looking for ways to bridge her love for the arts as a tool for healing. Her hunch led her to get an EDM in arts and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education. And pursue a doctorate in public health education at Columbia University. Where she's currently studying health equity through the lens of better leveraging arts and culture for wellbeing. Shanaé shares the catalyst that led her to creating her own path of studies, how she's making her work more accessible, and the advice she'd give her younger self. I welcome Shanaé Birch, on making it in public health. Hi, Shanaé. Welcome.

Shanaé:
Thank you so much.

Georgette:
Now, how would you describe what you do for those not in your field?

Shanaé:
I would describe myself as an artist-scholar. I'm an arts and public health researcher, so I spend a lot of time reading, writing, and thinking, about how arts and culture can contribute to healing and wellbeing. That's the umbrella. But I would say I'm specifically interested in Black creativity, imagination, as a public health issue. Or value.

Georgette:
I love that. What inspired you to focus on the career path in health equity at the intersection of arts and culture, to foster wellbeing, especially for the Black community?

Shanaé:
So, I actually... I thought I wanted to be a doctor, growing up in high school. I found myself nominated to go to something called New Jersey Governor School of the Arts. And so that happened the summer before my senior year of high school. And one of our mentors had shared with me that medicine's great, but theater can heal people too. And I think the Virgo that I am, and as young and precocious as I was, I took it literally. I changed directions, I changed the school that I wanted to apply to. And that's when Emerson College became my dream school. Because I knew about the honors program, I knew about the liberal arts experience, and was like, "Oh my goodness, this is a place where I could be a student, but also become an incredible actor, and learn more about health and wellbeing." Now, I would say that at age 17, 18, 19, when I first got to Emerson, I very much was still looking at it from a healthcare perspective. And that of medicine and theater and hospitals.

But by the time I got to my senior year at Emerson, I was able to take a class with an incredible scholar, Angela Cooke-Jackson, Dr. CJ. And she taught a class on culture and diversity and health communication. And that class is where I learned about the social determinants of health. It's where I specifically learned about, when thinking about the social determinants of health and being a Black person, that the health outcomes for my child, or learning about maternal mortality or infant mortality, those statistics were introduced to me for the first time in that class. So, that class gave me a context. But also it helped me pivot to thinking more about health equity and more holistic ways of, not just thinking about health as the absence of disease, but more critically about where we live, work, and play, influencing how we achieve health. Or maybe not even achieve health? But create it for ourselves.

Georgette:
You went to Emerson and studied acting. And then you went to Harvard and got your masters. And then you're currently, I don't know if this will be by the time this airs... If you'll still be getting your doctorate, or if you're almost done with your doctorate. But talk about that path, and how those worlds married together.

Shanaé:
Yeah. No, I just remember my junior year of college when the BFA acting program was structured a little bit differently. But we had studio, junior and senior year, and one of our classes was solo performance, and we had the opportunity to write our first 20 minute theatrical piece on anything that we wanted. And our professor had really told us that we could pick whatever we want. And so I started with the story of my grandmother and her struggling with cancer, and fighting emphysema, after being a lifelong smoker. And that was just a little bit of a taste, or introduction, to more of the scholarship that I then learned about; autoethnography and different research methods that use storytelling, or use narrative, to push forward messages that I think could be helpful to people, as we learn to talk more about health with our family and our friends.

So, it was in that year that I also was learning about culture and policy. I had taken a class called Adaptations with... At the time the performing arts chair, Melia Bensussan, and another visiting professor Kristin Greenwich... And they taught this class, Adaptations, on this book called Common Ground by Jay Anthony Lucas. And we created a theatrical response to that. And so I got a taste of that. And again, it further motivated me to seek out Dr. CJ at Emerson. And I was able to work with her. But again, I think the Virgo brain in me was like, "Okay, so after I get this BFA in acting, I'm going to get a master's in public health, that's the next step." And I applied to five schools, was rejected from all five of them. They were like, What does an actor want an MPH for? Which in hindsight makes sense. But now... Now I'll tell you, in 2022, there are tons of artists and creatives that have found themselves in programs studying public health.

So, when I got those rejections back in 2014, after graduating from Emerson in 2013, I was working as an admission counselor at Emerson. I was trying to figure out how to take on acting roles outside of the nine to five. And I ended up bizarrely moving from Beacon Hill to Cambridge and Harvard Square. And I was one day, my mom essentially was saying, "I know that you really want to act full time, but you can't quit your job until you have another job." And so I went and signed up for an Instacart job, or what have you. And then put in my notice to no longer be an admission counselor. So I wasn't employed at Emerson. And people were like, "What?" It was just to create space for theater. And that's when I first learned about Harvard's Center for Teaching and Learning, the Bok Center where they had an applied theater initiative.

And so, I got to experience performing and creating in the context of academia. To support faculty and teaching assistants in learning how to navigate a classroom in difficult times. And that's when I started wondering, "Oh, I wonder if Harvard has anything for me." And that's where I started looking at the setup at Harvard's Graduate School of Education. Because they had a degree called Special Studies at the time. But they also had a program called Arts and Education. And I eventually found myself there for the calendar year of 2015 to 2016. But it was a one year jam pack program. Which was an incredibly expansive, in that I got to take classes at the School of Public Health. So I still got to take classes at Harvard Chan. And that's where the weaving, I think, took place. Because, the thing for me that was most important between connecting theater and arts and culture and performance, with that of public health, was education.

And so my master's in Arts in Ed, and taking classes in Interdisciplinary Education and ways of dismantling and disrupting racism with incredible scholars. It was a place where, I think, my dreams could become a little bit more grand. And that's where I found myself really wanting to situate myself again within a school of education. Columbia University's Teachers College is prestigious, in that it's a school of education, health, and psychology. And so I've been there since 2017. I'm still there. I'm now a doctoral candidate. So this means that it's all but dissertation. I've proposed my dissertation with the first three chapters. I am in the data collection phase. I'm in the writing and tinkering phase. And ideally, prayerfully, in the most imaginative way possible will be finishing my degree this next school year, and becoming a doctor in public health. So I'm in a center, excuse me, in a Department of Health and Behavior Studies and with a focus in public health.

And my advisor, John Allegrante, has been so incredible in helping me navigate both, being an artist, but also a scholar. With both the funding mechanisms that I've been able to attract. But also, just how I show up in the classroom. Even in a class that has nothing to do with arts. I'm an artist and I don't need to go into the classroom pretending that I'm not. I am a creative, that's how I think. And so I think my professors there were super, super helpful in helping me and encouraging me to kind of... Not kind of... But definitely show up as my full self.

I remember taking a class in narrative medicine, the subject of using literature and writing to bring forth healing and wellbeing. I wrote an essay on Tony Morrison's Beloved, and Allostatic Load. And I got to talk about my family's lineage and connection to my families or ancestors' experience being enslaved. And the DNA test, and all those sorts of things. And that was a paper that I was like, 'Whoa, this could not happen anywhere." No one could write this paper... Except me, right? Because it's what I want to offer to the world. And in thinking about autoethnography, and thinking about our bodies as a site of cultural production, or as a place of knowing, and we have inherent ways of knowing, we can then share that, connect with community and build larger wells of care.

Georgette:
I love that. So, a couple of things came to mind. So one, for those that may not know, what is autoethnography? And what are some of the themes in the work that you really stand by? Because from the things I read on your website, I was like, "Okay, anti-racism, because there's a lot of things about anti-racism. And then there's also anti-Blackness, right? And so just would love for you to talk a little bit about some of the themes in your work. How that shows up, for us to visually be able to see that. And then what autoethnography is, for some of us that may not be aware.

Shanaé:
Oh, yes. Thank you so much for catching me on that. I find myself oscillating so many different words, and therefore so many different vocabularies. So, I was first introduced to the concept of autoethnography from another former professor at Emerson, Dr. Erica Williams. She was one of my advisors in honors. But autoethnography, it could be described as an approach to research in writing that attempts to use the analysis of self, or personal experience. So that's where you get the "auto" from. And then when you think of ethno, ethnography. Different from biography, you get the order of understanding cultural experiences. So, it's a little bit different than an autobiography, in that it's still grounded in research and methods. And there... When I say methods, I mean different ways of defining, and how should I say... Presenting the work. And so, there are different categories for autoethnography. And what I'm most interested in, and there are these scholars, Ellis, Adams, and Bachner. But they talk about something called layered accounts.

When you think about layering data collection, it happens over a period of time. There may be current events, there may be narrative memos, there may be conversations that you have with people. And I'm interested in performance autoethnography. So, I'm interested in taking some of my personal stories with health experiences, and then having larger conversations about culture of, "If I have this individual experience, and I know other people are talking about this shared experience, what does that mean for the public's wellbeing?" And so, more specifically, I have started naming something, naming my pursuit of this, as something that I've been calling healthful narratives, being in pursuit of healthful narratives. This idea that narratives that artists and cultural workers share can be both healthy and helpful. And so when we're sharing a healthful narrative, we're sharing something that has a health message, but is ethically... Has ethical commitments. Or commitments that make it so that people have... I'm like, "Oh goodness, how do I chunk this down?"

I feel like this is the task of every academic. How do you take something so abstract and theoretical, and make it accessible? I'm going to wrap that in a bun just for a moment to say, that my dissertation is creating space for me to do a solo performance. So I'm writing a solo performance, I'm embarking on that journey with another director. To be a collaborator, but also a point of accountability. In how I write a solo performance that has a value of public health and wellbeing. So, what does that mean? That means that I don't just want to tell my story to tell my story, I want to tell my story in community, so that other people can share their stories.

But also this collection of stories could potentially influence policy making. It can influence not only programmatic policy, but also when we think about local, state, federal policies that make it possible for people to live their lives wholly. So, when we talk about anti-racism, or we talk about a critical race praxis, we're talking about how can we critically think about how, in some ways, race is a social construction. But it's tangibly felt, because of the structures that we experience on the day to day. Because of police violence, because of differences in wages and wage theft, or capitalism.

Georgette:
Right. Right, right. Can you quickly tell us the name of your dissertation? And then you're also working on something as far as poetry to be in the health journal? Some new things. Yeah.

Shanaé:
Yeah, yeah.

Georgette:
You're really getting your foot in it with the arts, honey. And I love it.

Shanaé:
I am, I am. And I appreciate this so much. So, my dissertation has a working title. And I will say that this working title could change. But right now the working title is "In Pursuit of Healthful Narratives." But it's more specifically about, in this subset, Black women and/or gender expansive citizens creating and performing art and cultural work, in service of health. So, this idea... I'm really interested in how we can, again, create these pathways for art and cultural production for health and wellbeing. I'm also interested in gender bias, and the experiences that historically marginalized genders experience. And thinking about our labor, not only as things we do that we get paid for. But also things that we create and build for society and contribute to systems and places and ways of feeling. I look at my life and I just think about how much work I've done, that I also just do for free. And doesn't necessarily contribute to my estimated assets, or that sort of stuff. So, that's a part of it. But you had mentioned poetry.

Georgette:
Yes, yes. There's an cademic journal that you're going... You're going to be creating something, or...

Shanaé:
Yeah. So, something Health Promotion Practice is one of three academic journals that are a part of a society, like a professional association that I'm a part of, SOPHE, the Society of Public Health Educators. And that journal, Health Promotion Practice, has invited myself, Ryan Pettaway of Oregon State University, and LeConté Dill of Michigan State University, to be co-eds of a new section that we're calling Poetry for the Public's Health. And Poetry for the Public's Health is there for people of all backgrounds... Whether that's of public health, art and culture, poetry, or maybe a different lane... To write poems in the context of public health. And with a more expansive definition of what constitutes that? I find that as we're living through multiple pandemics, more people have naturally needed to learn about what public health is. And it's one of those professions where if people don't see you or know that you exist, maybe, arguably, that means that things are going well.

But right, now I think public health professionals are under a lot of scrutiny because of, not only misinformation, but distrust. And the way that health has been politicized. So, we're not trying to back away from that with this section, in Poetry for the Public's Health. Health has been politicized. There are political determinants of health, as well as social. And so, we've created the space for people to submit their poems, and be in conversation. Record their poems, and think about new ways that we can document scholarship. Because there's a larger question too, about what counts as scholarship.

Georgette:
Right. Because the question I thought about, was it just you all submitting your work? Or was it open?

Shanaé:
Oh, yeah.

Georgette:
Kind of answer, this is going to be [inaudible 00:20:01] submit their work.

Shanaé:
So, we started our first three sections with special invitations to people -

Georgette:
Oh, nice.

Shanaé:
Within our circles of poet friends. Or people who are adjacent to public health education. But we're launching a call, and we will actually have about six issues a year, for the next couple of years. That's what the editor, the current editor in chief, has allotted for us. And so, we're going to have people submit poems. I can give you the link, so that people can be aware of it when it goes live.

Georgette:
Absolutely.

Shanaé:
But yeah, we're inviting people to write these poems. And it's peer reviewed. We're having people read the poems, ask questions. And these poems are being accompanied by abstracts, too, because sometimes a poem on its own... You want it to live and exist in that way. For this particular audience, for this particular community that we're curating this for, we want to give artists the opportunity to expand. And that doesn't necessarily mean to explain it with a 101, what is -

Georgette:
Right, right, right.

Shanaé:
This poem about. But to just introduce it in the way that they most see fits.

Georgette:
Yeah. That's exciting. I mean, I love the work that you're doing, you're really passionate about it. And I'm just like, "I wonder if there's more Black women and just Black people in this space." And so I think that's amazing.

Shanaé:
There are. I just the other... I think it was a couple of months back... While I was in Boston working on the show at the Huntington Theater, Common Ground Revisited, which was taking place nearly 10 years after that first class, Theatrical Response to Common Ground. I was connected by way of Twitter to another doctoral student who finds herself at the intersections of sociology, public health and storytelling. And I think what I initially was missing, I'm now recognizing is something that can be created. I think we're naturally finding ourselves in these Twitter spaces and Instagram spaces and.

Georgette:
Just online in general.

Shanaé:
Online in general. Listservs for Black feminist institutes.

Georgette:
Yes.

Shanaé:
But I hope one day to convene us all. Because it's really cool to meet people that are just as... Who I think have been told what they want to do doesn't fit the box of what's the status quo... I remember at Emerson sometimes wondering, "Well, if I want to do all these things, why stay in the BFA acting program? Maybe I should create my own major," because at Emerson College can do that. But this was... It made sense in the end. And now I don't regret the unconventional nature of finding a home, finding a community of Black scholars who care about health and art making and culture building.

Georgette:
Speaking of Emerson, if you can go back in time to your Emerson self, what would you say?

Shanaé:
What would I say to her? What would I say? I would say one, you had the coolest apartment with a view of the Boston Common. Never, ever, take that for granted again. But then two, I would say... Something about orientation. I was a part of orientation as a freshman, but then every year after that. And was also a part of core staff, and planning the incoming freshman's class my senior year. And I think I would definitely tell senior year Shanaé, who was planning as a core staff member, to really just soak it in. There's nothing like the orientation experience at Emerson College Prepares. No offense to Harvard, no offense to Columbia University. But Emerson's orientation, it just is the bees knees.

Georgette:
I'm laughing, because I remember when they asked us, what I said in orientation, they were like, "What do you want to be?" And I raised my hand and I literally was just "The next Oprah, with my name on the billboard." I just went ham.

Shanaé:
Yeah.

Georgette:
But that's the only thing I remember. And people had remembered that when they saw me around campus, from orientation. Because I went there for grad school. But yeah, that's interesting that you mentioned orientation.

Shanaé:
I feel like I just would want to... Yeah, remember more.

Georgette:
Right.

Shanaé:
Take more notes about orientation.

Georgette:
Or even just take more in. Because I recently feel like I became more present in my body, over the past year. And so, there's a lot of things that just... Our bodies hold memories of a lot of things. But when you're dissociating...

Shanaé:
Yes.

Georgette:
You're in your mind. So you're up here. But if you come, can you come in? Can you come down? Can you pay attention? So, I feel like there's a lot of things at Emerson that I wish I remembered. I remember things, but I don't know if I was really feeling and enjoying those things. In my senses or in my body with those things, if that makes sense. That is what I think about when you said "orientation." The through line of just, were we present, was I present enough at Emerson? I don't think I was.

Shanaé:
Embodiment is so important. When I think about the different art forms, theater, especially applied theater, creates space for people to be in their bodies in a way that we could be at any time. But, in a theatrical setting may become more sensitive to you.

Georgette:
What's one lesson you learned the hard way? Whether it was at Emerson, personally, professionally, navigating?

Shanaé:
Oh, okay. Well. I would probably say... Let me look, fix the glasses on this one. When I think about the hardest lesson, more recently in this last year, as I've been dealing with what has been categorized as complicated grief... I lost this several members of my family and circle to Covid and other sudden illnesses... I put a bunch of projects on the back burner? And I think the hardest lesson for myself in picking them back up again... After giving myself time to truly not be a product of capitalism and produce, produce, produce through the pain... Was getting past, I think, a fear of perfectionism. And my fear of perfectionism started to encroach on my value of accountability. So, I missed deadlines that I otherwise maybe could have been more forth forthright, or forthcoming in saying, "This is going to be late. I need to change this," or, "I need help."

That was probably the most recent, hardest lesson. Because I would say that from mid-summer of 2020 through mid-summer 20... 22. I have been really trying to reckon with grief in a society that doesn't really make space for it. And then the hardest lesson was saying, "Yes, I still need this" and "This ideal hope of being perfect... Which no one is... Even though we're perfect the way that we are..." Again, yeah, it was impeding with this value of accountability. I just had to break through the first... If you're walking into a house for the first time, if there's a little porch and a screen door, I just had to open the screen door and I'm walking through the little sunroom right now, I think.

Georgette:
Right. You're not through the whole house yet.

Shanaé:
I'm not through the whole house yet. I'm still cleaning up.

Georgette:
I love that.

Shanaé:
I'm still making amends, I'm still checking in, clarifying. Needing to reconcile and recuperate from those burners. But it's a lesson that I think I'm still learning. All of the things that I left on the burner in crisis in 2020, have not all been amended or accounted for. But I'm still here. And I think that the people on the other side of that will be more happy about that than anything else.

Georgette:
Yeah.

Shanaé:
I'd like to think.

Georgette:
Right. If we're still living, we still have purpose to do what we need to do. So yeah, in my mind I was like, "Girl, I'm still on the porch." So you in. You're in, gracefully navigating, okay?

Shanaé:
Gracefully. Navigating.

Georgette:
Navigating.

Shanaé:
Yes.

Georgette:
That's the only answer. When people ask me, "Georgette, how are you doing?" All I got for them, Shanaé, is "Gracefully navigating. That's all I got for y'all." Because every day feels different for me. And I go in and out. I have my highs, I have my lows.

Shanaé:
Yeah.

Georgette:
There's low highs, right? And then high lows. And then they'll end up...

Shanaé:
Whoo, yes, yes. One thing that I learned in this process of taking space for grief and taking space for mental health days, whether low or high... Because sometimes you're having a really great day and you just got to take it for yourself... No reason to waste it indoors. I created an away message that so many people responded to by saying, "I want that. I need that. Thank you so much."

Georgette:
Okay, copy and paste that for me, please.

Shanaé:
I will copy and paste it.

Georgette:
Put that in a... I want to see that. But yeah.

Shanaé:
I was like, "Grief sabbatical." I was like, "I got you."

Georgette:
Yeah, I love that.

Shanaé:
[Inaudible 00:30:06]

Georgette:
No matter what you do now, your experience at Emerson has influenced who you are today. Every institution leaves its fingerprint on us. Whether we use it, acknowledge it, or not. What do you think that that Emerson-shaped mark is for you?

Shanaé:
Well, I mean, it's in the motto. "Bringing Innovation To Communication and The Arts." It's something that I find in... Emerson shaped so much of who I even gravitate towards in community, that I would definitely say that who I am as a scholar... And that is both as an artist and as an academic... Is entirely shaped, I think, by this place that became my haven. Emerson was a place where, again, I could be in the books at one time, and the next hour on stage, reciting Shakespeare as Paulina in Winter's Tale. Honestly, that's the gift. That's the dream. To be able to not just be yourself, but be more than one thing. Emerson was...

Georgette:
They were loud about that, very loud about that.

Shanaé:
They were very loud about that. And I took note. And even when mentors, mentors who've stayed alongside this journey and have been the people that I've gone to, even in my doctorate journey... No one can ever take those connections away. And some of my best friends are Emersonian. And not just Emersonian, but also we pledged the same sorority.

Georgette:
And community looks different everywhere. But ever since the Emerson way of fostering community, whether you were part of an organization, whether you were part of a club, whether you were part of the radio station.
And so, what's one thing that you like to try next? And why haven't you tried it yet?

Shanaé:
Okay, so, you know how I mentioned that I have a professional microphone? But then I was like, "Oh, should I bring it out now?" And I didn't.

Georgette:
Yes.

Shanaé:
I really want to try voice acting. And I know that you're a voice actor.

Georgette:
[Inaudible 00:32:14].

Shanaé:
I was like, I already know that. But honestly, that's the next thing. And I bought the mic. I have a friend who's in the business. And I'm like, "I want to learn the tricks of the trade."

Georgette:
Do it.

Shanaé:
So, that's something that I really want to do.

Georgette:
That's hilarious. You beat me to the punch. Because I was just like, "Oh, that's funny. I do voice acting." And you're like, "I already knew that. Wait a minute."

Shanaé:
So I didn't mean to... I was just like... Because I really admire your career -

Georgette:
Thank you.

Shanaé:
And I admire your hands in so many different spaces. I like the idea of reading novels, but I also, the idea of snappy snazzy...

Georgette:
I mean, it runs the gamut. Scripted podcasts are becoming a really big thing.

Shanaé:
Yeah.

Georgette:
So yeah, absolutely do it. It's funny... And I'll keep this story short. My opportunity happened right before the pandemic. I literally was... I came back from Miami and I was like, "I got to be in New York. I want to tell Black stories. And that ain't happening in South Florida," where I was, in Miami. And in the way that I wanted it to be, right? New York is more liberal than Florida.
And when I came back, I was doing some part-time work at a radio station, and then I was like, "Bump that. I'm going to just start taking voiceover classes." And literally took the voice over classes and did a showcase for some talent agents. And all of this happened right before the pandemic. So, I got in it. And then the pandemic was actually perfect, because everyone turned to voice acting. I had gotten all my equipment early. By the time it became mid-2020, all the equipment prices went up, and/or were sold out.

Shanaé:
Whoa.

Georgette:
Go for it. Go for it. Go for it. Go for it. If you want to do it, don't... I get in my head a lot about a lot of stuff. I'm not a professional TV writer, but I have this scripted series idea that I'm working on.

Shanaé:
Yeah.

Georgette:
And it's just like "Do it." Yeah.

Shanaé:
I love that. Yes.

Georgette:
Go for it.
And my last question.

Shanaé:
Oh.

Georgette:
What does it mean for you to make it? And how will Shanaé know when she gets there?

Shanaé:
Okay, so my life motto is "If it's not a heaven yes, it's a hell no." And there will be shirts one day. But I'll know that I'll have made it... Quote unquote... When I truly believe that it's not just an aspirational motto, but one that I've fully embodied. I am really excited to one day continue teaching as a professor, in some way or fashion.

But beyond that, I really would love to create a space for artists and cultural workers and public health professionals to come together, and be in a retreat space that helps tap into creativity and imagination and building of new worlds. And so I'll know I've made it, yeah, when I can say, "Heaven, yes, we're on this path. Heaven, yes. The people who want to be here are here. And the barriers to being here do not exist. Because this is an accessible inclusive space." And until then, as another fellow, Emersonian... One of my dear friends, Sam Patton. She's an artist, singer, songwriter... When I say, "If it's not a heaven yes, it's a hell no." Sometimes she offers "Or an Earth maybe." So, in the interim, that's how I'll know I'm making it. But I'll know I've made it when it's all heaven yes.

Georgette:
I love that. And I'm in my late thirties. I know you just turned 30, you're talking about to turn 31. But on this side of my late thirties, Shanaé, I was like, "There's no time to do things that you don't want to do. So there's no time to do things that your body doesn't want to do." You don't have energy for, you're just not interested. It's okay. It is okay. And so I have been working, putting that into practice for myself. So come on, have you used "hell no, Earth maybe."

Shanaé:
I am so inspired by your journey.

Georgette:
Thank you.

Shanaé:
And just think that it's so imperative that we celebrate it. We celebrate that, before it was anyone else's to hear, it was yours first. Your journey. And I think oftentimes, in this age of consumption and overexertion, we find ourselves resisting what my therapist introduced me to. This concept of emergent nos. Feel like society asks us to stuff these "Ah-ha"s or these insights, away. To be of service. But service without concern for our health and wellbeing, the wellbeing of our communities. It almost becomes void. So yeah, I'm digging at these revelations during that. Yes. I am.

Georgette:
Thank you.

Shanaé:
I'm digging. I am digging.

Georgette:
No, thank you. The last one, as you mentioned, your therapist, the last one... I have a therapist as well. And she's a spiritual mentor, and she's known me so much longer than she's been my therapist. But the idea and the concept... And it's not hers, but... Even being introduced in having to practice radical acceptance through my human body.
Whoo.

Shanaé:
Yeah.

Georgette:
And radical acceptance is, oh man, that is something that just not... Doesn't happen overnight. It's a consistent practice. And so yeah, the emergent nos, the radical acceptance. There's a lot of things that we've been introduced to just, for the betterment of our wellbeing, emotionally, spiritually, mentally, physically.

Shanaé:
Yes.

Georgette:
And so I'm here. Girl, when I tell you this journey that I am on, I call it my pleasure and healing journey. It is going to continue to evolve into my last breath. And I'm on the other side as an ancestor. Okay?

Shanaé:
Yes, yes, yes. I love it. Yes, me too. Sign me up. Yeah.

Georgette:
Okay.Thank you, Shanaé. Thank you so much. Thank you, thank you.

Shanaé:
Sincerely. This was time well spent, well shared.

Georgette:
Absolutely.

Making It Big In 30 Minutes is sponsored by the Emerson College Office of Alumni Engagement. And supported by the alumni board of directors. Stay in touch with Emerson community. Join us over at Emerge, a digital platform where Emersonian go to connect. Go to emerge.emerson.edu for more.