As a young scholar, Mary Corcoran was browsing a list of funding opportunities when she noticed one for research that required travel. Later, an opportunity to work on a project in Paris gave her experience that resulted in a publication on the path to becoming a professor of educational psychology.
“It was a combination of having a model and having an experience myself,” says Corcoran. “I found it so valuable that I thought we should have more such opportunities.”
In 1996 she created the Mary E. Corcoran Endowment, which has provided research travel awards to more than 20 students. She’s heard from recipients over the years and knows that wonderful things have come from it.
One of those recipients is Ya Liu, a doctoral student in comparative and international development education. Liu, too, knows the value of travel in educational experiences.
Intrigued by how globalization shapes education, Liu had a long-time dream to study abroad. After completing her master’s degree in international and comparative education in China, she pursued her doctorate in the same field in Minnesota. Her dissertation research focused on the identity of the Chinese “education diaspora” in the Midwest.
A Corcoran Research Travel Award enabled Liu to present papers at two international conferences in the United Kingdom in 2012—the Eighth Annual Conference at the Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity, and Multiculturalism at the University of Surrey and the Fifth Global Diaspora Forum at the University of Oxford—requiring air and train travel.
“The conferences were a critical help for my dissertation,” says Liu. “Going to the conferences and talking to people from around the world and from all kinds of disciplines helped me to reconfigure my research design and become more focused.”
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