Thinking Out of the Box
Jeremy Tan Tintiangko’s academic journey (PhD in Communication) is best characterized as one full of self-exploration and self-realization. It is a journey that has landed her in a location that she never expected to be in and into a field she didn’t realize she could love so much.
While she did both her BA and MA in the Philippines, she credits much of her successes and positive experiences to The Chinese University of Hong Kong thanks to its outstanding location and its world-class teaching staff.
“I didn’t know where I wanted to go. I knew my skill sets, I knew what I wanted to do and what I didn’t want to do,” said Jeremy after completing her BA in Communication in the Philippines at the De La Salle University. So, she decided to work in the newspaper industry for a few years.
After four years, she decided to take a break and begin freelancing while pursuing her MA in Communications at the same university. During that time, she began to truly reflect on what she wanted to do after her MA and figured that she didn’t want to go back into media but toyed with the idea of working as a copywriter in advertising.
Seeing her potential, her professors encouraged her to think out of the box a little and try her hand at doing some research-based projects.
“At the time, I was in the process of finishing my thesis and waiting for my diploma and I thought: Sure! Why not? It had more income, and I would be doing something similar to what I was already doing in grad school,” she recalled.
It was that moment, as if someone opened the floodgates, that Jeremy found her calling.
“I realized that this was something that really excited me and something that I had a true passion and skill for,” she said. Aside from doing her own research, Jeremy was often asked to help conduct lectures and soon found a passion for academia.
“That opened up the path, and I knew then that I would have to undertake my PhD sooner or later,” she said.
Finding her place
Even though the Philippines brimmed with PhD opportunities, she felt she needed to wait for the right opportunity to present itself whether it was at home or elsewhere. With a keen interest in subcultures, and her research into the intersection of those cultures with production and media platforms, she eventually found herself applying to get her PhD at the School of Journalism and Communication at CUHK in Hong Kong.
“I wasn’t looking or even thinking about going to Hong Kong,” she said. But according to Jeremy, two major factors drew her to CUHK. Firstly, it was Hong Kong itself, and secondly, the professors at the university are particularly well-known in her area of research.
“The country or city you want to work in the next three to four years after graduation is important, I’m a huge sci-fi fan, and Hong Kong is a fascinating city for me,” said Jeremy. “But more importantly, I wanted to work with a professor who is well-known in my field.”
Working with the best
She was fortunate enough to have Prof. Anthony Fung, one of the most influential and well-known professors working in this field in the Asia Pacific region to take her under his wing. With his network and affiliation to Jeremy’s home country, she knew that under his tutelage she would be able to fulfil her career goals.
“This is really important to be able to work with people who are active in the work that you do,” she said. Citing other countries such as Australia as popular academic destinations, “but if you don’t have the right professor working on the same stuff, you would just have a hard time putting your work out there and being in touch with the right people”.
Living the dream
Of course, the fact that CUHK falls within the top echelons in terms of university rankings was also a big draw for her. Though she landed in Hong Kong at the height of COVID which saw pandemic restrictions relegating students to their dorm rooms taking classes on Zoom, she says her campus experience was still plentiful.
“The campus is huge and I just love being here, it’s convenient, it’s beautiful, and what I like the most about it is that it’s near nature locations, and yet you’re not so far to go to the centre of town to explore and party,” she beamed.
As she continues with her PhD programme, Jeremy looks forward to taking advantage of the school network to expand her opportunities and connections, as well as to embark on exchange programmes. She is especially eager to meet visiting professors which is always the best part of her university experience at CUHK.
“The best experience for me is the professors, CUHK has amazing professors, and they are really inspiring and that’s the most important, “she said. “I loved that we are always being pushed out of our comfort zone so that you can realize your capacity to achieve things that you didn’t know that you could do before, and that’s what I’m looking for.”